The last time Prince Fielder was in Arlington it was one of the hardest days of his life. He gave an emotional farewell to his playing career on Aug. 10 before returning home to Florida while recovering from a second cervical spinal fusion surgery.
His return Saturday wasn’t as hard as he expected. He and his two sons Haven and Jadyn, who were often regulars in the Rangers’ clubhouse, were back visiting with teammates, coaches and staff. Fielder, 32, was at peace with his circumstances. The Globe Life Park crowd gave him a big ovation during the first inning Saturday when then video board showed him in the dugout. He responded by making a curtain call.
There’s a certain sense of relief and calmness just having Prince in our dugout.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister
“It’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s the baseball part, I get that. I can’t play that. I’m just hanging out with the guys.”
Fielder plans to be on hand for the Rangers’ division clincher, whether it’s in Arlington or in Oakland this weekend.
“Hopefully, we can do it soon,” he said. “I’m just here to support my teammates. I’m just trying to have fun, trying to hang around. I’ll be back for the whole playoffs. Right now, I just came to say what’s up.”
Fielder said he only recently got out of the brace that kept his neck straight after surgery. He’s riding a stationary bike and allowing his neck to heal.
He’s enjoying resuming his role as a mentor to not only the Rangers’ younger players, but the veterans, too.
“I hope he’s around as much as possible,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “It’s leadership, it’s knowledge. It is a tough presence, if you will. I think there’s a certain sense of relief and calmness just having Prince in our dugout gives a lot of these guys. I know it certainly gives Adrian [Beltre] a big brother back that I think he really misses in the dugout.”
If anything, the time back in Arlington gives Fielder a break from his recent duties: child transport.
“They’ve got football practice, baseball practice. I’m their Uber driver right now,” he said.