For all intents and purposes, Prince Fielder has become the Texas Rangers' full-time designated hitter.
Back in March, we never saw this coming. It wasn't because Fielder is a great defensive first baseman — he's not — but he's always played first base and he's getting paid a lot of money to be a full-time DH. Yet, that's basically what he's become, and he's producing there as the team's leading hitter in several offensive categories even if he's yet to find that long-lost power stroke.
But new skipper Jeff Banister doesn't want Fielder to completely give up first base, which has been manned by Kyle Blanks since Mitch Moreland went down. Moreland, the team's best defensive first baseman, is set to return from the disabled list on Wednesday night.
“He needs to be able to play first,’’ Banister told reporters. “And I still feel confident about it.’’
That's because the Rangers still have Interleague games to play in NL parks under NL rules, and they can't afford to take Fielder out of the lineup without the luxury of a DH.
Give Fielder credit, he's accepted the fact he isn't the best defensive option at first base and gone on record saying he's OK being strictly a DH, and no matter how much money he makes, Banister's job is to put the best lineup on the field at all times. The best lineup doesn't include Fielder at first, but it does include him hitting in the heart of the Rangers' order.