Rangers try to move on from Fielder loss

DETROIT – The Prince Fielder news was all over the Texas Rangers clubhouse on Friday. Televisions blared with pictures of Fielder highlights and discussions over the impact of his loss on the team.

Fielder is scheduled to have season-ending fusion surgery Tuesday in Dallas, unless a second opinion alters that plan. The club believes, barring any setbacks, that he'll be ready for spring training.

Players couldn’t avoid the subject. But there was already some resolve on display.

“He’s a big part of our team, of our offense,” outfielder Alex Rios said. “Losing him creates a hole in our lineup. It’s a big hole. But what can we do? We have to focus on the guys on our team. We have some guys swinging the bat well and hopefully they can step in and continuing to have success.

“It’s a big loss that will be felt. But we have to go about our business the same way we’ve been doing.”

Rios was quick to mention the opportunity that Fielder’s absence creates for certain players, starting with Mitch Moreland. The left-handed hitter is now the everyday first baseman and will play against left-handed and right-handed pitchers. But Moreland is not Fielder, and he isn’t expected to be.

“I’m putting Mitch Moreland in the lineup and letting him be Mitch Moreland,” manager Ron Washington said. “Just go play and do what you can do. If we get that Mitch Moreland, I’m all good. We can’t replace Prince Fielder’s production. We don’t have that guy here. Prince is on the DL. There’s nobody that can replace him. So let Mitch Moreland be Mitch Moreland.”

The first baseman does look at the injury as a chance for him to step up.

“I know I’ll be in the lineup just about every day and my approach won’t change,” Moreland said. “I can hit left-handers. I haven’t had a lot of chances this year, but now I’ll get some more.”

Leonys Martin was in the leadoff spot Friday. Washington wasn’t ready to make that a permanent move and deflected any attempt by the media to read anything more into the decision. He doesn’t want to put any added pressure on Martin. But if Martin plays well, he’s likely to continue to get a chance there since the manager wants Shin-Soo Choo at the 3-hole with Fielder out.

Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas will play at second base, which may last for much of the season with Jurickson Profar re-injuring his shoulder. Profar is shut down and is out at least eight to 12 weeks.

“They’ll be some growing pains,” Washington said. “But we’ll make them better.”

What Washington won’t tolerate is any complaining or whining about the team’s situation.

“I come to the ballpark every day, put out a lineup and expect to win,” Washington said. “It’s no secret what we’re going through. I’m not Houdini. I don’t have a crystal ball. I put the best lineup I can out there and we believe we’re going to win.

“We know it’s a challenge, but it’s not anything to think about. We show up and play. Anything beyond that is an excuse. We don’t make excuses in Texas.”

Shortstop Elvis Andrus agreed.

“Prince is one of the guys you count on at some point during the year to put everybody on his back,” Andrus said. “He’s been doing that for his whole career, and that’s why we brought him here. But, unfortunately, he got hurt. We need him actually healthy to be the Prince he’s always been and now we have to continue to play and find a way to score runs. There’s a long way to go and we still have a great offense to stay consistent. It’s a chance for everybody to get it done.”

“Our focus is playing hard and being ready every single day, no matter who is in the lineup. Whoever is there, find a way to help us win. That’s our mentality. It has to be our mentality.”