A smiling Prince Fielder arrived in Brewers camp Sunday eager to play baseball. Too bad he was surrounded by reporters eager to talk about his steady march toward free agency.
“You guys can talk about it,” Fielder said, “but I’m going to give you my answer.”
And that answer?
“I don’t know how to do all that [business] stuff,” Fielder said. “I’m playing baseball.”
In other words, he’s not going to offer any updates.
“Pretty much,” Fielder said with a smile. “But you can ask.”
So we did, and here are some of the topics Fielder discussed his little scrum Sunday morning:
Was it tough watching Brewers pitchers struggle over the past two seasons?
“You don’t blame any one side. The frustrating part is losing, period. I don’t care if the pitching’s great and we’re not hitting good, or if we’re hitting good and the pitching [poor], a loss is a loss. As a team, we don’t [point fingers]. You want to stay positive.”
On a new manager and a partially new staff:
“Once you’re in Spring Training, it’s all baseball. I talked to [Ron Roenicke] in the offseason over the phone to make introductions. It’s cool.”
On entering his 10th professional season:
“Wow, I didn’t think about that. That’s pretty cool. It’s gone by pretty fast until you think about it. I think it’s gone by fast because I have kids. When you see them, it makes it seem faster.”
Is he a different guy now than he was in ’02?
“Hopefully. I want to get better every year.”
Did he reflect on his 2010 season after it was over?
“Honestly, I didn’t reflect on it at all when I got home. I started hanging out with my kids. … I wouldn’t call [the experience in 2010] adversity. I just played baseball, and I don’t see it as that dramatic. [Pitchers] aren’t going to just throw it down the middle.
“I was just trying to contribute as much as I could to win, and I got anxious. That’s just how I am. I just want to win, and sometimes I get a little overanxious. But once I kind of realized what was going on and helped win by trying to score runs and having good baserunning, getting on base, that helped more than me trying to swing and making outs for no reason.”
Was there a turning point in reaching that outlook?
“Kind of, and then I got tired of making outs on bad pitches. When you do that enough times, you start to get tired of it and you try a different way.”
Did last year, particularly the final home game when he walked off the field to a standing ovation, feel like goodbye to Milwaukee?
“I don’t know. Not really. I thought I was going to be back here, but with everything being said, you never know. I thought I was going to be here, but you never know. This is where I play.”
Did he pay any attention to the Albert Pujols situation?
“Not really at all, actually. I’m just playing baseball. I don’t know what his situation is, anyway.”
As a fan of baseball, does he think it would be cool to see Pujols remain in St. Louis beyond this season?
“I think it would be cool for him to go wherever he’s happy. Whatever makes him happy, I think he does it.”
Is he really able to block out all of the contract talk?
“Yeah, especially this year because we have a good team. I’m just focused on winning. It’s easy to block things out when you have a good team and you know you have a chance to win.”
Fielder was happy for Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, an offseason neighbor in Orlando who signed a contract extension last week.
“He was healthy, and that was the big thing,” Fielder said. “He was healthy and showed everybody what he could do.”