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Fielder working through slow start

Special to MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- In 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, Prince Fielder has never had a lower batting average through the first 10 games of a season than in 2014. He entered Saturday hitting .150 with no home runs and three RBIs.

Fielder does not have a history of being a slow starter -- he hit .417 in his first 10 games of 2013, .324 in 2012 and .400 in 2011.

Full Game Coverage

ARLINGTON -- In 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, Prince Fielder has never had a lower batting average through the first 10 games of a season than in 2014. He entered Saturday hitting .150 with no home runs and three RBIs.

Fielder does not have a history of being a slow starter -- he hit .417 in his first 10 games of 2013, .324 in 2012 and .400 in 2011.

Full Game Coverage

General manager Jon Daniels, who traded Ian Kinsler for Fielder last November, cited the early season's small sample size as a reason not to be nervous about Fielder's hitting. He also noted that Fielder drew two intentional walks and another four-pitch walk Friday night.

"We're 10 games in -- I don't really think anything about anybody's season so far," Daniels said. "I know he's like any player in a new organization -- he really wants to do well. You can sense that body language, he wants to come through for the guys. … I thought it was telling last night that regardless of what a week's worth of stats say, we saw how the other teams are approaching him and how they view him. I'm not worried about him at all."

Still, in 45 plate appearances this season, Fielder has not quite looked like his old self yet. He has been hitting balls on the ground considerably more than he usually does; the majority of the balls he had put in play through Saturday -- 51.4 percent -- were ground balls, an increase of more than 8 percent off his career high. He's also popping up in the infield more and swinging and missing at more pitches outside the strike zone than he has in recent years.

"His timing is off -- out front, behind," Washington said. "It's a matter of just one of these days, one pitcher's going to step on that rubber and he's going to be on time, and then we won't have any more questions about Prince Fielder. But right now, it's timing."

One aspect of Fielder's play both Daniels and Washington praised Saturday is his commitment to improving on defense. Washington said Fielder is "100 percent better" at his footwork around the bag than when he joined the team to start Spring Training.

Washington and Fielder put in some work at first base before batting practice Saturday.

"I want to keep him going through some repetitions, balls in the dirt, doing footwork around the bag," Washington said. "We just want to make sure that he knows what his technique is all about."

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.

 

Texas Rangers, Prince Fielder