Posted on August 10, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder announced that his days of playing baseball are over due to medical reasons. With his two sons sitting beside him and all of his teammates in the room showing their support, an emotional Fielder announced that after undergoing a second surgery on his neck last month, he will no longer be able to play.
“The doctors told me that with two spinal fusions, I can’t play anymore. I just want to thank my teammates and coaches,” Fielder said. “I’m really going to miss being around them. It was a lot of fun. I’ve been in a big league clubhouse since I was as old as my boys. Not playing is tough. I’m happy I got to enjoy my career.”
Fielder underwent his first neck surgery in 2014, limiting him to 42 games that year. He bounced back last season, hitting .305 with 23 home runs, helping him post an impressive OPS of .841. However, Fielder struggled this season, as he attempted to play through renewed pain in his neck. “I know I struggled this year, but this is the most I fun I’ve had and the best mentally that I’ve felt,” Fielder said. “This hurts. My brain was good and my body just gave out.” He added that he knew it was over for him during a doctor’s visit prior to his surgery last month.
It’s important to note that Fielder is not officially retiring from the game; instead, he is medically unable to continue playing. He is owed $24 million per season through the 2020 season. The Rangers will be on the hook for $9 million per year, while the Detroit Tigers will pay $6 million, which was the agreement when Fielder was traded to Texas. The remaining $9 million per year will be paid out by insurance the Rangers have on his contract. He will remain on the 40-man roster every offseason, but the Rangers will move him to the 60-day DL once the season starts so he does not take up a roster spot.
Fielder’s last big league game was July 18 against the Los Angeles Angels. In his 12-year career, Fielder hit .283 with an OPS of .887, spending time with the Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers in addition to the Rangers. Perhaps most fittingly, Fielder finished his major league career with 319 home runs, the same total as his father Cecil, who was also in attendance Wednesday, as his son, Prince, announced that injuries were forcing him to walk away from the game.