ARLINGTON -- The media room in the basement of Globe Life Park was packed with teammates, coaches and other members of the Rangers when Prince Fielder walked in with his two sons, Jadyn and Haven, to announce the end of his baseball career."The doctors told me that with two spinal
ARLINGTON -- The media room in the basement of Globe Life Park was packed with teammates, coaches and other members of the Rangers when Prince Fielder walked in with his two sons, Jadyn and Haven, to announce the end of his baseball career.
"The doctors told me that with two spinal fusions, I can't play Major League Baseball anymore," Fielder said.
And the tears flowed freely the rest of the way as Fielder spoke while still wearing the neck brace from his July 29 surgery.
"I want to thank my teammates, all the coaches. … I'm going to miss being around the guys," Fielder said. "It has been a lot of fun. I have been in a big league club [a long time], and not being able to play is tough. I'm happy to have enjoyed my career playing with these guys. They are awesome."
Fielder also called out his agent, Scott Boras, who was sitting next to him at the podium, assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore, who sat with Fielder on the bench while he was the designated hitter, and third-base coach Tony Beasley, who has been an inspiration to the entire team with the way he has handled his year-long battle with rectal cancer.
"Having him around while I was struggling really helped a lot," Fielder said.
Fielder also mentioned his family with his wife, Chanel, in the audience and his two sons with him at the podium. Fielder was not the only one shedding tears.
"I want to thank my wife, she really helped me a lot … staying positive no matter what," Fielder said. "She wouldn't let me get down or mope. She never let me feel less than I should. She always made me feel like I was supposed to feel."
Fielder called Jadyn and Haven his "two homies," and they have been roaming the Rangers' clubhouse frequently since Dad was acquired from the Tigers three years ago.
"They never allowed me to feel bad," Fielder said. "I'm so proud of them for being strong at that time."
Fielder also got to the reason for the news conference.
"My brain was good and my body just gave out," Fielder said.
Fielder was acquired from the Tigers on Nov. 20, 2013, for second baseman Ian Kinsler. His first season was cut short because of a herniated disk in his neck, and he underwent season-ending surgery on May 27, 2014, by Dr. Drew Dossett.
Fielder came back strong in 2015, hitting .305 with 23 home runs, 98 RBIs and a .463 slugging percentage. He won every Comeback and Bounceback Player of the Year award, and the hope was he would be even stronger this year.
Instead, the reverse was true. Fielder struggled all season, hitting .212 with eight home runs, 44 RBIs and a .334 slugging percentage. The Rangers were in Anaheim on July 18 when Fielder told the team about his physical issues. An MRI was immediately scheduled along with a visit to Dr. Robert Watkins, who is based in Los Angeles, on July 20.
Fielder knew it wasn't good even before hearing the MRI results. Watkins asked him to walk a straight line, and Fielder had too much difficulty doing it.
"Too much brain involved," Fielder said. "That was real. I couldn't walk a straight line. I was thinking about how I was going to hit a fastball."
The MRI showed another herniated disk above the old injury. Watkins told him surgery was recommended and also told him something else.
"He said, 'I wouldn't advise you to play again,'" Fielder said. "That was it."
Fielder saw Dossett on July 25 and surgery was scheduled four days later.
"He's not 100 percent certain when the symptoms started," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Just talking to him and listening to him you could tell it was something he'd been dealing with for some time -- pushing through it and getting treatment because he wanted to be out there."
Fielder is not officially retired, but he will spend the next four years on the 60-day disabled list. The remaining four years and $96 million of his contract will still be paid, split up between the Rangers, Tigers and an insurance policy. The Rangers will be reimbursed for a significant portion of the annual salary through insurance, and the Tigers still owe $6 million per year as part of the original trade agreement.
"I think you understand with any injury, once there's surgery, common sense would indicate there's an elevated risk of re-injuring it," Daniels said. "We had no indication that he would be likely to deal with it so soon, or at all."
Fielder, the son of former Major League slugger Cecil Fielder, was a first-round pick by the Brewers in 2002 and played for them from 2005-11. He signed a nine-year contract as a free agent with the Tigers and spent 2012-13 with them before being traded to the Rangers.
A six-time All-Star, Fielder leaves the game with a career .283 batting average, 319 home runs, 1,028 RBIs and a .506 slugging percentage. He is ninth among active players in home run and tied for 116th all-time. He is tied with his father, who also hit 319 home runs.
But more than the numbers, Fielder said he'll miss the time with his teammates and having his sons running around with him on the field and in the clubhouse. Fielder was always willing to compete in the Home Run Derby because his two sons loved being on the field with him.
"All that stuff that I enjoy … it sucks that it's all taken away from me," Fielder said. "I can deal with it, but it's the things being taken away from them."
Fielder was asked what it meant to have all his teammates at the news conference.
"It's awesome, it's really awesome," Fielder said. "They are part of my family. We've got four at home and 25 here. It's cool. It means a lot."
And as he left the podium and the room, he was given a big ovation from his teammates.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.