|Prince Fielder makes long-awaited Detroit return|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 12 June 2007 12:16|
As a child, the son of Detroit slugger Cecil Fielder used to regularly hit home runs during batting practice. On Tuesday, the younger Fielder returned to Detroit as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Arriving at Comerica Park, he is completing a circle that started when he was an enormous 6-year-old hanging out with father Cecil, utility man Tony Phillips and the rest of Sparky Anderson's team in 1990.
Over the next six years, he began to build his legend, smacking those batting-practice homers into Tiger Stadium's upper deck, carrying Phillips around the clubhouse and impressing onlookers with his maturity.
Fielder left the Motor City at the age of 12 when his father was traded to the New York Yankees, but everyone around the Tigers already suspected he was going to end up being a star.
``You can't ever say that you look at a kid that age and say that you know he's going to hit 40 or 50 home runs some day, but Prince was unbelievable,'' Hall of Famer Al Kaline said. ``Here's a 12-year-old kid commonly hitting homers at a big-league ballpark.
``He was just so much stronger than anyone else. When he played against kids his own age, it was like a man against boys.''
Kaline, who has been around the Tigers for more than a half-century as a player and observer, had his remaining doubts erased when Fielder visited spring training as a high-school senior.
``He hadn't even graduated yet, and he already had more bat speed than anyone on our team,'' Kaline said. ``That's when you knew he was going to become a great hitter.''
At the age of 23, Fielder has done just that. He leads the National League with 23 homers and a .651 slugging percentage, and has become so valuable that Brewers manager Ned Yost can't figure out a way to give him a day off.
``I'm not sure Prince thinks there is such a thing as a tough lefty,'' Yost said when asked if that would be the time to give his best hitter a rest. ``We were just in Texas, and they bring in C.J. Wilson throwing 94 (mph), and Prince just flicks a base hit to left. We'll try to DH him here and there in the American League parks and give him some time that way.''
Yost didn't know Fielder as a child, but the tales he's heard don't surprise him.
``If the stories are that he was an awesome kid who loved to play the game and had incredible poise, talent and focus, then nothing has changed a bit,'' Yost said. ``That's still who he is.''
Fielder did not speak to the media before Tuesday's game, and announced through the team that he will not be answering any questions about his father or his time in Detroit.