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06/19/08 7:46 PM ET
Prince is an inside-the-park homer king
Brewers first baseman hits second of career on Thursday
By Dave Fultz / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE-- Prince Fielder: Home run champ, All-Star first baseman, and inside-the-park home run specialist? Fielder hit the second inside-the-park home run of his career in Thursday's series finale against Toronto, almost one year to the day from his first. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 270 pounds, the big first baseman doesn't exactly look the part, but that didn't stop him on Thursday.
"Last time I got one [before last season] that was legit was in Little League," Fielder said. "I'm just glad to get them any way I can."
In the fifth inning, Fielder hit the first pitch he saw down the foul line to the corner in right field that appeared to get caught under the padding on the outfield wall. Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios waved his hands to signal for a ground-rule double, but first-base umpire Chad Fairchild ruled the ball in play.
"I went into second base thinking, 'OK, I got a double', and [Rios] was waving his hands, but the umpire didn't do anything," Fielder said. "I saw Dale [Sveum, Brewers third-base coach] waving so I figured, 'OK, I'll get to third', and then, all of a sudden, I was going home."
Fielder is certainly known for his prodigious power, but speed is something that most teams don't worry about when he comes to the plate.
His first inside-the-park effort came on June 17 of last year when the Brewers made their annual trip up to the Metrodome to face the Twins. Lew Ford lost a Fielder fly ball in the gray and white domed ceiling and the big man made it all the way around the bases for the score.
"He had to run a lot harder on the other one," Brewers outfielder Corey Hart said. "I don't think Prince knew what was going on this time. None of us knew. Everyone kind of stopped and Prince kept running."
Both plays delighted Fielder, and not just for their novelty.
"They both were pretty good, just because [the first] one started a rally, and this one gave us the win because we only won by one run today," Fielder said. "This one might have been a little better because it was a lot easier."
There was no play at the plate this time around, as Rios was waiting on the umpire's call. But his wait was in vain because there is no ground rule at Miller Park that could have helped him, according to manager Ned Yost.
Yost couldn't see the play as it unfolded because Rios and the baseball were tucked into the right-field corner, out of view from the home dugout.
"We don't have a ground rule for that play," Yost said. "Everything's in play."
"If you don't know the rule, you're more likely to give up on it," Hart said.
Most players don't hit one inside-the-park homer over the course of their entire careers, and now Fielder - a most unlikely candidate - has two in the last year alone.
Certainly, odds say that No. 2 is probably the last for the big first baseman, right?
"I never expected to hit another inside-the-parker [after last year], but I got one this year, so I don't know," Fielder said. "Anything's possible."
Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.