The Prince of Arlington disrobes

  • Morty Ain [ARCHIVE]
  • ESPN The Magazine | July 9, 2014

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Being away from my teammates and the game is tough. I can't do much for the next couple months [following neck surgery for a herniated disk] besides light physical therapy. It's weird.

I just didn't understand what was going on. When I made contact [with the ball], my left arm would give way and I would roll over on the ball, rather than being able to use my power to lift the ball. But after I received a [nerve-root] injection and the strength still didn't come back, [I knew I'd have to have surgery]. I wasn't going to help my team playing like that.

I can't do much of anything right now. I have to let the process of healing take place. I just started doing physical therapy a few times a week, but a lot of that is in my hip right now where they shaved some of the bone to use in my neck. I have the feeling back [in my neck and left arm] and I'm pain-free, so I look forward to a full recovery and getting back out there next year, doing what I do and helping the Rangers win.

You don't have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. A lot of people probably think I'm not athletic or don't even try to work out or whatever, but I do. Just because you're big doesn't mean you can't be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn't mean you're going to have a 12-pack. I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I'm not going up there trying to be a fitness model.

I got some nice 22s. My dad has big arms, and everyone in my family has them, so it's just normal in my house. I had them when I was younger too, but obviously there was a little more cholesterol behind them [laughs]. They've always been big, just needed to fill them out with some solid stuff in there.

The gummy bears tattoo was my idea. It's my son's favorite candy. The sketch was my other son's idea. It's a self-portrait of himself. I just showed the artist his sketch and had him tattoo it on my forearm. It looks like a stick person with big hair. It's pretty funny.

When I first started swinging a bat, I swung righty. So one time my dad came home and he wanted to see my batting stance. So I showed him. He says, "You don't hit right-handed. You hit left-handed." At that age I didn't even really think about it. Just like "all right," and I switched hands. He said I'd thank him later.

I was just swinging hard and got lucky. When I was 12, I was taking batting practice with an aluminum bat at Tiger Stadium. I don't know where it landed exactly, but upper deck somewhere. Yeah, people were surprised.

I need to feed the size. Obviously, I'm a big guy. But I also need to feed myself with the right things. I have a chef now, so it's definitely easier to make sure that I'm getting full off of the right foods. If I don't stay on it, it can get out of control.

I wish I would have eaten right earlier in my career. My thing was, especially during the season, I would just lift weights and eat -- play for the tie. I'd eat a big meal, then do cardio to try to make it even. Instead of eating right and working smart, I was working harder and making myself more tired.

Make up a number and I probably did it. I think I've leg-pressed 1,000 pounds 12 times. But now I'm just trying to be durable. There are some days when I will lift heavy weights just because it's a heavy day, but I'm not trying to be an Olympic lifter or anything. I don't want to put any more stress on my joints than I have to.

I don't think working out makes you better at baseball. Doing actual baseball activities will help with that. But if I could just not do anything, and still be in shape and get through an entire season, that would be great. But that's not realistic. There are 162 games ahead of you that must be done.

You don't have look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete.

I doubt the fact that I train in MMA intimidates other teams. I'm a teddy bear.

I swing a 10-pound metal bar into a punching bag. Over time, I ended up popping the bag with the bar, but I just bought the gym a new one.

When I was 11, I fouled a ball off my shin. I had to come out of the game. My dad came over and he said, "I don't think you're hurt." What? No, look, it's swollen. He's like, "Yeah, but I don't think you're hurt." And then he didn't talk to me for a couple of days. I didn't get it at first, but afterward I realized he meant that I should play. That was his way of getting the message across. It worked.

A lot of people who are strong can swing a bat. But you can't go up there and swing with all body or else nothing is going to happen. I had to figure out how to mix the two with a little finesse and just let my natural strength come through.

In 2007, I hit 50 home runs. That was pretty cool. I never thought I'd be able to do that. At the time, I didn't even think it was that big of a deal, for some reason. But now looking back I realize it was pretty cool.

All I wanted was a chance. People didn't think I'd be able to play every day because of my size or be capable of having a long career. They were just dismissing me. At first I used it as motivation, but then I realized keeping all that anger in for no reason just got old. I'm too old for that.

Prince Fielder Alexei Hay

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