The Detroit Tigers made the signing of Prince Fielder official on Thursday with a press conference, featuring the player, general manager Dave Dombrowski, manager Jim Leyland, owner Mike Ilitch and Fielder's agent, Scott Boras. MLive.com had some notes from the press conference, which shed some light on how the signing of Fielder came about and how it all went down. As expected, the talks didn't surface until Victor Martinez suffered an ACL injury and was set to miss the entirety of next season.
Owner Mike Ilitch expressed his desire to acquire Prince much sooner than, say, this offseason, saying that he had always wanted Prince since the draft, since they'd missed him by one spot. Also a fun note is the fact that the talks apparently began with Boras following a joke in which the the Tigers asked if Prince would be interested in a one-year deal.
One concern for the Tigers is the lack of team speed. All credit to Fielder and his hitting, but the man is not going to win any kind of footrace or agility skills competition any time soon. When talking about Miguel Cabrera shifting to third base, Leyland said he wasn't concerned at all, and then added his philosophy on "slow guys":
If they hit them where they're supposed to hit them, they can trot. I'd rather have a slow guy that can hit, instead of a fast guy that can't. We're not a manufacture-type team. Any good manager, the key is to manage the players you have.
Fielder also talks about the adjustment to the American League and the pressure of his contract. In regards to the former, he said "it's all baseball," and the latter, he's not really concerned with. He's set no statistical goal for himself.
Leyland insists there will be a lot of versatility with the DH spot, especially with little nagging injuries that go on during the season. In regards to Brandon Inge, he is apparently not the happiest of campers, but the Tigers appear to want to keep him and use him wherever they can. At any rate, he's a starter being used for depth, and it's hard to argue that it's a bad thing (at least from the team perspective).
According to the post from MLive, Dombrowski said that the Tigers didn't have any kind of secondary plan in free agency (regarding Martinez) that compared to the signing of Fielder, who he describes as entering the prime of his career.
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