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09/24/09 10:29 PM ET
Fielder is last candidate to play all 162
Goal to be in lineup every day started in Little League
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- When Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis took a night off on Tuesday in Toronto, the Brewers' Prince Fielder became the season's lone iron man. Fielder hasn't missed a single game this season, making him the Major League leader with 153 games played, and leaving him as the only player in baseball with a chance to appear in all of his team's regular-season contests. Fielder, in fact, has started all 153, batting cleanup and playing first base. It's no accident. Fielder recalled coming out of a Little League game when he was 12 years old, after fouling a pitch off his foot. "I came out of the game, and I remember someone being [upset]. They were like, 'I think you're all right,'" Fielder said. "That made me feel bad. I didn't like the way I felt. So from then on, I wanted to play every day. "I just felt soft. I didn't like it. If I'm hurt, it's one thing, but if I can to play, I want to play." Fielder said he has fought through aches and pains this season, but never came close to asking for a day off. Manager Ken Macha never considered giving him one. "Not even close," Macha said. Fielder has come close to playing every game before. Since his first Opening Day in 2006, Fielder has played in 627 of the Brewers' 639 games, including 609 starts at first base and nine as the designated hitter in Interleague Play. "When I managed in Oakland I had Miguel Tejada, a middle-of-the-lineup guy who wanted to play every game," Macha said. "It's a comfort to you when you come to the ballpark and all you have to do is put his name down and you know what you're getting." Three Brewers have started all 162 games in the franchise's 41-season history: Richie Sexson (2003), Robin Yount (1988) and Gorman Thomas (1980). Only Sexson, a first baseman, didn't make at least one of those starts as the designated hitter. Sexson's season was especially impressive, considering that he hit 45 homers, drove in 124 runs and played every inning of every game. Fielder was on pace to match that feat until Aug. 12, when he was replaced by a pinch-runner in a loss to the Padres. Carlos Lee also played in all 162 games for the Brewers in 2005, but he came off the bench one time. Yount started every Brewers game in 1976, but the Brewers lost one game to a rainout that wasn't rescheduled, and he played only 161 games. This season, Fielder has the edge in games played over Robinson Cano, who has played 152 of the Yankees' 153 games, and Adrian Gonzalez, who has played 152 of the Padres' 154 games. The Brewers are eliminated from postseason contention, but Fielder still has plenty to play for. He entered Thursday with a Major League-best 131 RBIs, but the Phillies' Ryan Howard tied that mark in the first inning of Thursday's game. Albert Pujols sat at 129 RBIs with the Cardinals idle. Markakis had played every Orioles game through Monday but did have one night out of the starting lineup on June 21, when he entered the game to play the final two innings. He didn't view playing all 162 games as a goal like Fielder did. "I don't think it should be a goal for anybody," Markakis said Tuesday. "It's a long year, and it's a lot of wear-and-tear. I know I've had some scheduled days off and some things have come up. ... "Numbers are numbers. I don't really care what they are at the end of the year. The biggest thing is winning and losing, and the biggest part for us is getting these young guys and letting them get experience."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.