Hart on Fielder, playing first base
The Corey Hart quote that I retweeted from WSSP’s Mike Wickett this morning generated a bunch of responses, so I thought I’d pass along more of Hart’s comments from last night’s appearance on the station so readers can see the full context. My take is that Hart was complimenting Craig Counsell’s role on the team, and not sending a jab to his friend Fielder.
Hart was asked for his reaction to Fielder signing a nine-year deal with Detroit.
“Prince is more like family than a teammate,” Hart said. “Anytime you play with a guy, you’re around a guy so much and you get close, you’re happy when guys get their contracts and go where they want to go. I think Prince is pretty happy to go back [to Detroit].”
Fielder, of course, spent a lot of time in Detroit as a kid when his dad played for the Tigers.
Hosts Tim and Sparky then asked Hart about the leadership void left in the Brewers clubhouse with Fielder’s departure. Here is Hart’s answer:
“Prince is pretty vocal, but I wouldn’t have called him our team leader,” he said. “I think you actually lose more with losing Craig than you do with losing Prince. Obviously, [Fielder's] ability on the field is way above your average player, but I think we’re going to miss Craig Counsell more in the clubhouse than we are Prince. He’s agreat, fun guy, but it’s nice to have those older guys who have been there and won. Any time Craig talks, it doesn’t matter what was going on, you’re going to listen. I think Prince had the kind of makings of it, but you don’t lose as much as you do losing a guy like Craig Counsell.”
To me, that’s not a knock on Fielder at all. Prince was a clubhouse leader at times, but his biggest moments of leadership came in the way he played the game on the field, his intensity and his will to win. Can anyone name a superstar player who hustles on groundouts more than Prince Fielder?
Tim and Sparky also asked Hart about the potential of playing first base. I have not seem him quotes elsewhere since this idea came up, so I wanted to pass along that, too. Brewers officials have been raising the idea of Hart playing a limited number of games at first (20? 30?) while the team breaks in Mat Gamel. Hart is a right-handed hitter and Gamel hits lefty.
Hart said he’s taken grounders and throws at first base as recently as September.
“I didn’t think I was going to be a first baseman again, but you never know,” he said. “You see a lot of guys that play outfield who came up as an infielder, and there’s always a chance you can go back and mess around once in a while. I kind of thought there might be a chance in the future that I might be stuck over there again. I thought I’d go over there and mess around a few times this year. Practice is one thing, but you definitely need some game time experience to get comfortable over there.”
The part where he says, “stuck over there again” sort of jumps off the screen, no? Doesn’t sound like Hart is dying to use his first baseman’s glove.
Host Tim Allen heard the same thing, and asked Hart, “Do you want to do it?”
“I talked to [general manager] Doug [Melvin], I talked to [manager] Ron [Roenicke] and I said I would do whatever helps us,” Hart said. “I told them, it’s going to be up to them to get me ready and comfortable, and I’ll do whatever they tell me to do. Every drill that they have me do, I’m going to do as much as I can to get better over there.”
Interesting. Yet another indication that this is a huge season for Mat Gamel. If he steps in and has a lot of early success, it would do so much to help this Brewers team in 2012.
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