Ailing neck sidelines Prince Fielder

ByRichard Durrett ESPN logo
Sunday, May 18, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There seems to be no relief in sight for the Texas Rangers' injury epidemic.

Add slugger Prince Fielder to the list due to a herniated disk in his neck. Fielder received a nerve-root injection Saturday morning, and the club hopes he can play on Tuesday, assuming it alleviates the pain.

Fielder told the team about his stiff neck three or four weeks ago and has played through it. He took some anti-inflammatory medicine, which helped a little, but the club and Fielder decided to try the injection after Fielder saw spine specialist Dr. Drew Dossett.

According to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, Fielder won't necessarily need offseason surgery, though nothing has been ruled out. The team plans to wait to see how he reacts to the injection.

"It sounds like he's probably been dealing with it more than just this year," Daniels said. "It's gotten to a point where it was an issue for him."

Fielder, 29, has just three home runs and 16 RBIs this season. He also struggled at the end of last season while with the Detroit Tigers, who traded him to the Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler.

"Putting two and two together, it stands to reason it [the neck] would be affecting his swing," Daniels said. "He described it as a lack of strength in his left arm as the main symptom. For the type of hitter he is, I certainly think that could impact his ability to hit for power."

Fielder tried to play through it and was hitting the ball better, going 6-for-10 in Houston and batting .350 in his last 12 games.

"He takes a lot of pride in being there for his teammates and playing every day," Daniels said. "We got to a point where [manager Ron Washington] and the medical team told him, 'You're not letting anybody down. We want to get you right.'"

Daniels said Fielder and Kinsler were not given physicals as part of the trade in November, though the teams' medical staffs exchanged information on each player.

Daniels said Fielder's neck injury wasn't something the club likely would have discovered in a physical anyway, and it didn't come up in his spring training exam, either.

"He had never been symptomatic, so I don't know that we would have done cervical X-rays and an MRI. That's not standard," Daniels said.