SAN DIEGO -- Among the many items for new Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister to accomplish is meeting his players face-to-face. He did that last week with staff ace Yu Darvish and now he plans on a meet-and-greet with slugger Prince Fielder.
Banister has exchanged text messages with Fielder but plans, if needed, on visiting the first baseman at his Orlando, Fla. home. Banister said he's got a scheduled trip to the Dominican Republic in January so a visit to see Fielder could occur before that trip.
"We've met before on the field in different uniforms," Banister said of the visit he had with Fielder when they were with different teams. "I would love to do that and I would love to continue the process of making the phone calls. It's not just about introducing myself, there are follow up phone calls to each player. I'd like to get together with the entire staff now that we have the whole staff in place and we can spend a few days together where we can map out things we want to do for the rest of the offseason and plan going into spring training."
Last week, Banister called Fielder a beast in the middle of the lineup and while he didn't use that word to describe his potential cleanup hitter on Monday, he called him an offensive threat.
"You pay attention to where he was in the lineup," Banister said.
Fielder missed just one game over a five-year stretch until last season when he participated in just 42 games due neck problems that forced him to undergo surgery. Even when he played in a full-season, Fielder's home runs, RBI and slugging percentage declined for three consecutive seasons.
According to Baseball Reference's WAR ratings, which measures a players value, Fielder had a 4.6 ranking in 2011 and saw it increase slightly to 4.7 the following season. But in 2013 his WAR was 2.0 and of course last year it was -0.2.
"I'm not going to get into whether it's misleading or not," Banister said of Fielder's numbers. "I didn't watch him play last year, I saw some video and I know the man was injured. I know what I've seen him do in the past. Go back and look at the numbers against the Pittsburgh Pirates in what Prince Fielder did. My view of him is pretty good."