SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington watched Prince Fielder for a few days during the defensive drills on the back fields and then asked the slugger what part of fielding he wanted to work on most.
Fielder's answer? Picks in the dirt.
So there was Washington, on a side field before the rest of the club arrived for stretching, one-hopping balls into the dirt and encouraging Fielder. It involved Washington showing Fielder some pointers and Fielder asking a bunch of questions. Fielder even asked for Washington to throw him one extra bucket of balls, which the manager quickly agreed to do.
Washington was stressing to Fielder to get down with the ball and to use all of his arms as he gloved it.
"He has short arms, so he has to make sure he gets all of the advantage of those short arms out front," Washington said. "Our last 15 to 20 balls, it came together the way we wanted it to come together. It’s getting out there with the ball and making sure that when you swipe, you swipe with the length of your arms."
Washington, of course, was excited to be out there and had a willing pupil.
"I loved it," Fielder said. "That's what made it a lot of fun, the enthusiasm really, yeah, that made it worthwhile. It really did."
It's the first of a series of sessions that Fielder -- and any other infielder that wants it -- will work with Washington. The manager has a plan for more of them, wanting to focus on Fielder's backhand, forehand and his angles in receiving the ball.
"I just want to make sure he uses his athleticism to get down with the ball and pick it," Washington said. "He’s a big guy, but you can see how flexible he is. We’ve got to make sure he uses that flexibility."