Prince Fielder ready for 'fresh start'

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Prince Fielder wants a fresh start.

And if Fielder's introductory news conference is any indication, he's already getting it before he even takes a swing in a Texas Rangers uniform.

Not only does he have a new team, but he's in a new division and a new climate. He will hit in a different spot in the order, batting third instead of cleanup. And he ditched his old jersey number, 28, in favor of 84.

"I just wanted a new number -- a fresh start, a fresh number," Fielder said. "Eighty-four is the year I was born. I think it works. That's as deep as I'm going."

Fielder, who had his entire family with him at the news conference, didn't talk at length about much of anything Monday. But when he did talk, it seemed real.

He described his disappointing 2013 season in direct terms.

"Everybody was on me a little bit about my performance, rightfully so," Fielder said. "I sucked. I didn't have to be reminded of it. Hopefully, we can make some memories here."

Fielder was talking about a 2013 season when he batted .279 with 25 home runs and 106 RBIs. But he posted career lows in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and homers.

"That's a pretty good year for sucking," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.

Fielder, who grew up in Irving, Texas, in his pre-teen years and then lived in Florida, isn't worried about playing in the Texas heat.

"It's going to be hot," Fielder said. "Nothing you can really do about it. Just be hot with it."

Fielder was asked why he's insisted on playing every day. He said it goes back to when he was 11 years old and was hit in the shin by a foul ball and came out of the game. His father, Cecil Fielder, disagreed with the decision.

"My dad told me I wasn't hurt," Fielder said. "I didn't know what he meant, but he didn't talk to me for a day or two. I got what that meant. I should play unless it's broken. So I play."

Rangers manager Ron Washington heaped praise on his newest offensive weapon and announced that he'll bat third in the lineup. Fielder has batted cleanup for most of his career.

"Prince has protected so many players, it's his turn to be protected," Washington said.

Fielder's response: "Outstanding."

Daniels believes that Fielder is ready for a new beginning and can help the Rangers score runs more consistently.

"A guy of his magnitude, a perennial MVP candidate and one of the top power hitters in the game, isn't available if he's coming off a career year," Daniels said. "Based on the work we've done and our reports on him, we're confident there's a lot more in the tank."

Fielder also is confident, and he's excited to get going.

"I just want to play," Fielder said. "Right field is very nice for me, so I'm definitely going to look into that. I'm happy to be here. I just want to play hard and win some games."