Prince Fielder has always prided himself on being in the lineup every day, and for each of the last three regular seasons he's been there 162 times without fail. He was on track to do the same again this season, appearing in the Texas Rangers' lineup for their first 42 games. However, a neck injury that the team hopes won't linger kept him out of the lineup on Saturday and has him day-to-day.
Fielder was diagnosed with a herniated disc, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. It's an uncomfortable condition, but not as restricting as a disc problem in the lower back. Fielder admitted to the team that he's been dealing with it for some time, so that could help explain his lack of production early in the season. He's only slashing .247/.360/.360 with three home runs, well off his usual pace.
Fielder reportedly received a nerve-blocking injection that they hope will alleviate the discomfort and allow Fielder to avoid a trip to the disabled list.
"He takes a lot of pride in being there for his teammates," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We told him that he is not letting anybody down, we've just got to get this right."
Obviously the biggest issue for Texas is getting its big first baseman healthy, but Fielder's 547 consecutive games streak coming to an end is also notable. It was the longest active one in baseball, dating back to Sept. 13, 2010, when he was still with the Brewers. With his streak over, San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence now ascends to the top of the list with 215 straight games played following Saturday. So it appears Cal Ripken's streak is safe for the next 15 years or so.
The Rangers also learned on Saturday that left-handed pitcher Martin Perez will undergo Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a partially torn UCL on Wednesday. He joins fellow lefties Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and ten other Rangers who are currently on the disabled list.
“It’s part of what we deal with every day,” Daniels said. "It’s been to the extreme this year, but it’s something every club has to deal with.”
The Rangers are lucky to be one of the deeper teams in MLB, which is why they've hung around .500 despite the injury bug. This last wave, however, which now includes Fielder, is taking its toll as they've lost four straight and fallen to fourth place in the AL West.
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