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Diet fit for a Prince
Fielder takes meat off his menu as he opts for vegetarian lifestyle
By ANTHONY WITRADO
Posted: Feb. 20, 2008
Phoenix - As Prince Fielder matures, he's not afraid to try new things.
At the plate and on his plate.
Fielder is known as a large, imposing figure on the field. He was a home run machine last season, a most valuable player candidate and one of the game's brightest young stars. He has personality and a first name that takes someone special to bear.
What else can one share about the 23-year-old first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers that hasn't been said or written?
Try this: Prince Fielder is a vegetarian.
That 6-foot, 260-pound build is powered by wheatgrass, soy and tofu nowadays. No meat. Not even fish.
It wasn't always this way. Fielder used to enjoy a stacked burger or a juicy steak as much as any carnivore, but a few weeks ago he received a book from his wife, Chanel, that changed his outlook on what he puts in his massive frame. The book described how certain animals are treated and slaughtered for food.
The youngest player to hit 50 home runs in a season was grossed out, so much so that he made his last meaty meal a salmon filet before quitting the animal game on Feb. 3. He has even dabbled in a vegan lifestyle but admits that might be pushing things a little.
"After reading that, (meat) just didn't sound good to me anymore," Fielder said. "It grossed me out a little bit. It's not a diet thing or anything like that. I don't miss it at all."
Fielder didn't make the decision to change his body style, which has been as much a calling card for him as his ability to whack baseballs out of sight. In fact, he doesn't even know how much he weighs or if he has lost weight since becoming an all-veggie man.
He does know his favorite vegetarian food so far is Boca Burgers, a burger patty made from soy protein and wheat gluten. But he is obviously still a newbie because he has to "load it up with ketchup" for it to be just beyond tolerable.
Fielder, who is also sporting dreadlocks in their infancy, said he has a lot more energy than he did before the new diet, and his body feels cleansed - in more ways than the public should know.
Besides his food intake choices, Fielder would like to make another change in his life, like not being the National League's error leader at his position. He committed 14 last year and ranked in the cellar for fielding percentage at first base. Fielder did not know he was that bad until Chanel pointed it out.
The stat bothered him. Fielder thought about gaining a reputation as a masher who could only crush a baseball, not field one. He gagged at the thought. So this spring training, he reported almost a week early with a new glove and the intention of hounding third base coach Dale Sveum, who instructs infielders.
"I'm definitely going to do things more without Dale having to come get me," Fielder said. "I'll go grab him. I really want to become an all-around player."
Fielder used a Rawlings glove last year and stayed with that brand because he knows a lot of Gold Glove-winning fielders use it. His thinking is on the same lines as a kid who believes Air Jordans might make him jump higher.
"So I can at least fake it till I make it," Fielder said, laughing. "If I keep faking myself out into thinking I'm good, it'll happen. Just fake it till you make it, baby."
Jokes aside, one thing Fielder never has to fake is his offensive proficiency.
Fielder finished last season with a .288 average, .618 slugging percentage, a franchise-record 50 home runs, and 119 runs batted in. He was feared at the plate and pitched around at times, yet even in the last week of the season was trying to improve.
On Sept. 25, with Fielder sitting on 48 homers before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, he was in the batting cage working on his swing. Fielder was getting frustrated with the results and used hitting coach Jim Skaalen as a sounding board.
The coach had some clear words for the slugger.
"I told him, 'Will you just shut up and go out there and hit two tonight and get this (stuff) over with?' " Skaalen said. "And he goes, 'Yeah, you're right! I'm gonna do it right now!' And he did it."
But Fielder is never satisfied. He wants to be a better run producer, meaning he wants to run the bases better, hit smarter, be patient when pitchers nibble and, when he does tally outs, make them productive ones.
He wants to shine on defense. He wants to sparkle at the plate.
And while doing both, he wants to keep the greens on his plate and the beef out of his belly.
But there is a catch, warned Fielder.
"My wife said that if I lose some power, she's cooking me a big steak."