Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told reporters today that he hopes to see burly first basemen Prince Fielder take more walks this coming season.
"We would obviously like Prince to raise his on-base percentage, but more than that we really just feel he could use the cardiovascular exercise," said Melvin. "I mean look at him. Christ. He's a young man."
Fielder led the majors in home runs in 2007 with 50, but has struggled with his weight since getting called up to the big leagues at age 21. He's presently listed at 5'10", 270 pounds, but is assumed to weigh considerably more. With the Brewers expected to contend in the NL Central, they need a big season from the two-time All-Star.
"With the way our offense relies on Prince, we need him to work the count and get on base," said Melvin. "He's at a really elevated risk for heart attack or stroke otherwise. I imagine he's already diabetic."
Melvin said that it wasn't until he saw Fielder in the locker room with his shirt off between games of a double header last July that he realized the depth of his cleanup hitter's weight problem.
"He was walking out of the clubhouse and his breasts were so large and full that at first they looked almost erotic — like they belonged to a large, but sexually desirable woman," he said. "Then I realized it was Prince. I was sexually confused for a while. It affected my marriage."
Fielder claims to be a vegetarian, a habit he picked up before the 2008 season, but team athletic trainer Roger Caplinger thinks the slugger is confused about the particulars of such a diet.
"I honestly don't think he understands what counts as a vegetable and what doesn't. I saw him eat a package of Steak-Ums yesterday," said Caplinger. "The entire package. Including the box. I asked him how that fit into his diet and he looked at me like he didn't understand what I was talking about. Then he claimed he thought they were a vegetable called 'steak yams.'"