Prince Fielder Announces He Won't Be Medically Cleared to Return to MLB

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

Texas Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder (84) runs during a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)
Associated Press

Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder's career is over after 12 years in Major League Baseball.

On Wednesday, Fielder officially announced he would no longer be able to play, per TR Sullivan of MLB.com. "I can't play Major League Baseball anymore," Fielder said during a press conference. "It sucks to have it taken away early," he added. 

"It took too much brain to walk in a straight line, that was real...I was thinking, how am I going to hit a fastball," Fielder said

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported Tuesday that Fielder would announce his decision to step away from the big leagues. 

Rosenthal added Fielder is not retiring, but doctors will not clear him to play. Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball noted Fielder will still receive the $100-plus million still owed on his contract because it's a medical issue.

Fielder's deal pays him $24 million per season through 2020, noted Rosenthal.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram added that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the team has insurance on the contract. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News noted the Rangers will be committed to Fielder for $9 million per year through 2020.

Fielder will remain on the Rangers roster for the rest of his contract, according to Wilson, who added he'll be on the 40-man roster in the offseason and the 60-day DL during the regular season. 

After the Rangers defeated the Colorado Rockies 7-5, the club held a postgame meeting to discuss Fielder, according to Wilson, who added the players still aren't exactly sure what will happen on Wednesday. 

Fielder's 2016 season ended in July when he underwent neck surgery to repair a C4/C5 disc herniation, per Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake

Before Fielder was forced to go undergo surgery, he looked like a shell of his former self. The 32-year-old was hitting .212/.292/.334 with eight home runs in 89 games.

This campaign marks the second time in three years that Fielder's season has ended prematurely due to injuries. He required a cervical fusion of the C5/C6 discs in his neck in May 2014. He used to be one of MLB's great iron men, playing all 162 games four times in five seasons from 2009 to 2013, and he only missed one game in 2010. 

In a bit of sad irony, Baseball-Reference.com noted that Fielder's 319 career home runs are the same as his father, Cecil Fielder, when his career ended. Prince Fielder also had a terrific .283/.382/.506 slash line in 1,611 career games. 

Fielder was a huge part of the Milwaukee Brewers' renaissance, in which they made the playoffs twice in 2008 and 2011, reaching the National League Championship Series in 2011. He led the National League with 50 home runs in 2007, played in six All-Star Games and had four top-10 MVP finishes. 

Even though Fielder was never able to consistently recapture some of his early-career heights after leaving the Brewers, he did play in a World Series in 2012 and an American League Championship Series in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers before he was traded to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler prior to 2014. 

Fielder looked like a throwback slugger because of his big body, but he was an outstanding hitter for average and had a keen eye at the plate to go along with his power. The abrupt end of his career does not define his overall legacy of greatness that started with his debut as a 21-year-old kid in 2005. 

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