Friday, March 09, 2007

Nagging Leg Strain Troubles Brewers Prince Fielder

The more time goes by for young Prince Fielder, the more it seems like the handwriting may one day be on the wall, and it might be a four letter word: H-U-R-T.

Fielder -- the Brewers No. 7 overall pick in the 2002 draft -- finally appeared in a spring game on Friday, going 3-3 with two doubles after being sidelined for 10 days by a strained right thigh.

Fielder's aching quadriceps was supposed to have been just a nagging little injury that was to keep him out for no more than a couple of days. But after being penciled in as cleanup hitter in the next to last of the week's games, Fielder felt another twinge and once again was scratched.

That the injury is minor is unquestionable. What's troubling is that it was so early in camp, and yet Fielder missed time while having barely exerted himself. Watching him take those tight, powerful swings in the batting cage in the lower practice field at the Brewers spring camp off 51st Street in Maryvale, Ariz., he had yet to break a sweat.

But here he was -- at the bulletproof age of 22 -- being restricted to upper body limbering at a time when he should have been tuning up with his bat.

At the risk of assigning too much importance to it, this type of thing might portend of a future in which Fielder's unique amalgamation of power, girth and grace might continue to be undercut by his challenge to comport himself in a body that is barely six feet tall yet 260 pounds wide. Wouldn't it have been prudent to avoid a few of those intense 60-yard sprints such as the one in which he was hurt?

How long must Fielder wait before manager Ned Yost comes to the conclusion that his workouts should be specifically modified to be sure not to over exert him beyond the limitations one might expect of a big, big man. After all, this is the son of 300-pound former big leaguer Cecil Fielder, not former Olympian runner Carl Lewis.