It’s Time For Prince Fielder To Show Up

When Prince Fielder arrived here, it electrified this city.

After all, it was a homecoming. Fielder grew up here when his dad, Cecil Fielder, was a star for the Detroit Tigers in the ‘90s.

Plus, when the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the slugging first baseman, to a whopping nine-year, $214 million free-agent deal, it was a signal that the Tigers were serious about winning their first World Series since 1984.

For sure, barbershops around Detroit were abuzz. Fielder was the missing offensive piece the franchise was missing.

And while Fielder's regular seasons have been reason to cheer –– filled with two 100-plus RBI campaigns and a total of 55 home runs in his first two seasons in Motown –– Fielder's postseasons have left a lot to be desired.

In fact, they have been a disaster.

Coming into Monday afternoon's Game 3 of the ALDS against the Oakland A's, Fielder was batting a woeful .167 in his 15-playoff games with the Tigers.

Fielder snapped out of his funk, going 2-for-4 with two singles. "I felt all right," said Fielder after the A's beat the Tigers, 6-3, before a sellout crowd at Comerica Park. "I was trying not to do too much and hit it where it was pitched."

When Fielder stepped up to bat in the bottom of the fourth, he was overdue, to say the least. Fielder had just a lone single in his first eight at-bats in the five-game series.

"He swung the bat good today and he hit another line drive at the shortstop, he hit it hard," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said. "He swung the bat exceptionally well."

With a man on first and one out and the Tigers down, 3-0, Fielder finally delivered with a single to left field.

It helped to ignite the Tigers to a three-run inning, ending a streak of 20 straight scoreless innings in the series. "Anytime you get down three and can jump and get three runs quick in one inning, it's always a good feeling," Fielder said. "But it just wasn't enough."

The Tigers, who scored the most runs in MLB during the regular season, scored three runs in the first inning of Game 1 in Oakland. Then, they couldn't buy a run until the fourth inning in Game 3.

With Miguel Cabrera, the 2012 Triple Crown winner, struggling with a hip injury, the Tigers needed Fielder to step up and supply power.

Coming into the game, Cabrera had just two extra base hits since August 26th. One was a homer.

"It's not just one guy, you can't blame one guy," said Cabrera when asked if Fielder had to pick up the slack in the power department with him playing hurt.  

Cabrera's point is well taken. The Tigers have struggled to score. They have scored in just two of the 27 innings played so far. Plus, the team doesn't have a home run.

So it's not just Cabrera and Fielder struggling. But Prince is making $23-plus million a year. Fans will always focus on the thumpers, the guys paid to come through in the pressure-packed moments.

Before Monday, in his first 15 playoff games in Detroit, Fielder was batting just .167. His on-base percentage was a paltry .219 and his slugging percentage was just .217.

Last year in the World Series, Fielder was 1-for-14 with just one RBI.

Fielder's team now faces elimination on Tuesday. The A's lead the best-of-five series, 2-1. "Of course, I'm surprised to be in this position," he said. "We're a great team. But stuff happens. We have to come out and win that game."

If there is a silver lining in Fielder's return to Detroit, it's that he and his dad have reconnected.

The two were estranged the last few years. It was so bad the two didn't talk. That has all changed recently when the pair reunited as Prince goes through a tough time. He has a pending divorce.

Cecil Fielder was waiting for his son after the game outside the clubhouse. "He got his little groove back," Cecil said. "He swung the bat pretty good today, made some good connect. At the end of the day, it's going to take more than one guy."


Still, the fans thought Fielder arrived here to be the savor. It hasn't happened yet. No one is happy about it.

Rob Parker is a columnist for The Shadow League. He is also an analyst for Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles. He co-hosts The Odd Couple on Fox Sports Radio and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.