MILWAUKEE — On the field, nothing
will change with Prince Fielder. He'll play first base, bat fourth and
is still considered the key of the Milwaukee Brewers' offense.
Off the field, Fielder says there's
nothing to worry about right now, either. He wants to stay in Milwaukee
as long as he can and there's no urgency in negotiating for a new
"I came up here and I love it here,
so I want to stay here as long as possible," Fielder said Sunday at the
Brewers' annual offseason fan event. "I'm here for two more years
anyway, so I'm just trying to see what happens then and all the other
stuff hopefully will work out."
Fielder hit .299 with 46 homers and
tied for the major-league lead with 141 RBIs last season. He has a year
left on an $18.5 million, two-year deal signed last season and the
Brewers still hold his rights through the 2011 season.
"The guy is a definite force now,"
Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "I think his contributions are greater
than the numbers that he's put up."
After next season, Fielder could join
a crowded class of free-agent first basemen that may include St. Louis'
Albert Pujols, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and San Diego's Adrian
Gonzalez. Fielder said he hasn't done a lot of thinking about what's in
the distant future, but realizes he'll be the youngest of that group
who could be available.
"I've never been a free agent. I'm
just thinking on things I've been told," the 25-year-old Fielder said
on his priorities. "The money's great, but in the end, if you have
money and you're not happy; say, if the team doesn't think they're
going anywhere, you have to make sure everything is order when you sign
that kind of long-term (contract)."
The slugger has had a busy offseason
back home in Florida, moving into a new house in Windermere and taking
his children to school daily. His home has a workout facility and a
batting cage, and he said he started conditioning immediately after the
season ended to keep his weight down.
"So I don't turn into an obese person, because I can," said Fielder, who weighed 268 pounds last season.
Fielder, who is represented by Scott
Boras, says his only concern right now is playing out his first
contract, even though he realizes he'll be asked about his plans more
and more as he moves closer to free agency.
"In the end, it's my decision. But
as my agent, he's going to make sure I have the most information
possible about what's going to benefit me and my family first. That's
what it's about first," Fielder said. "My family has to be happy and
then we go from there."
General manager Doug Melvin said he
won't discuss any negotiations because it can hinder the process, but
the organization recognizes Fielder's value.
"I don't think there's any secrets
to what kind of player he is. You just have to look at his numbers and
his performance and how he's been here in the organization the entire
time," Melvin said. "(He) grew up here, developed here, came on the
Melvin said he had no specific time to discuss Fielder's future with Boras.
"It'll all be done behind closed
doors at a certain time and a certain place and I don't even know where
that place is and I don't know where that time is," he said. "There's
really not a story to it from my standpoint."
In the meantime, Fielder will be
right back where he's comfortable this season — hitting cleanup for the
Brewers, who scored the third-most runs in the NL last season. After
making the postseason in 2008 and fading to 80-82 last season, Fielder
has a simple goal for this year's club.
"My thing is just to get better," he
said. "Worry about our division first, worry about our own stuff first.
When your team is crisp, taking care of their business, then all that
other stuff falls into place."