DETROIT (CBS Detroit) If the much-anticipated debut of Prince Fielder in Detroit taught fans anything, it’s that the team’s newest acquisition loves the word “awesome.”
“It’s awesome, I don’t know what to say, it’s an awesome moment,” Fielder said. “I’m glad I get to be here with my family, one of my sons. It’s awesome, a special day… I can’t wait to get it going.”
Calling him, “one of the best hitters in the game of baseball today,” Tigers’ general manager Dave Dombrowski introduced Fielder to a packed house of media at Comerica Park.
Hear the complete news conference:
Owner Mike Ilitch described how proud Prince Fielder’s father Cecil Fielder, a Tigers star in the 1990s, was of his powerhouse son.
“Cecil, after Tigers games, would come up to the box and would sit down and all he did was talk about Prince,” Ilitch said. “Prince is going to do this, Prince is going to do that. He was a typical father, bragging about one of his kids.”
Ilitch went on to describe how the deal came about that astonished the sports world — bringing Fielder to Detroit at a price of more than $200 million over nine years.
“It came about when Martinez got injured and we sat down, Dave and I, and some of the other key people, about how we’re going to handle this. I got a little dizzy,” Ilitch said. “This person would move here, this person there…I got thinking ‘They’re all going to have pressure on him to match that .320 batting average, 100 RBI, and they’re going to feel pressure to fill in that slot.
“I don’t want to run into that. I would feel a lot better if we could solve it.”
Ilitch said he had always closely followed Fielder’s early career, and his slugging stats in Milwaukee, so when push came to shove in the wake of Martinez’ injury he directed staff to “go after Prince, make an effort, and see if we can get him.”
Bob Wojnowski, host of Jamie and Wojo on 97.1 The Ticket, asked whether the huge paycheck gave Ilitch pause.
“I know this is a lot more money, but I go by my instincts like everybody else does in business and my instincts told me ‘This is going to work out fine,’” Ilitch said. “I know what Prince can do, he’ll give it 100 percent, 120 percent and that’s all you can ask anybody.
“I feel very confident that things will work out. That’s just how I feel about it. I feel good about it. I don’t have any concerns. I’m not nervous about it.”
When asked if he would play first base, Fielder said, “That’s what I had in mind.” He later added he’s “confident of Miguel (Cabrera) at third base.”
“I’m glad people were excited for me to come here,” Fielder said. “I’m just happy that people want me to be here, and I’m happy to be here.”
He described playing with the other Tigers stars, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, in one word.
You guessed it: “It’s awesome,” Fielder said.
What are his memories of his dad’s years in Detroit? They’re meaningful enough that they shaped the rest of his life, Fielder said.
“(I remember) pretty much every day with my dad and taking batting practice, getting thrown in trash cans by Tony Phillips, him giving me candy from the side, there’s a lot of good memories,” Fielder said. “Hopefully, those go to my two boys. Those memories have helped me. All those guys I thought were superheroes — How much fun they were having playing baseball. It helped me a lot.
“It showed me what I really wanted to do as far as a job,” Fielder said.