Boos in Arizona motivate Prince Fielder - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Boos in Arizona motivate Prince Fielder

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Posted: Monday, October 3, 2011 5:16 pm | Updated: 9:07 pm, Tue Oct 4, 2011.

Arizona's fans let Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder have it during this year's All-Star game, relentlessly booing him for selecting teammate Rickie Weeks over Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton for the Home Run Derby.

Headed back to Chase Field for Game 3 of the NL division series, Fielder will likely hear it again, but the Brewers are well past it.

"I'm sure they'll boo him and it seems to motivate him and get him fired up," Milwaukee left fielder Ryan Braun said. "But from our perspective, we understand why they felt the way they did. They should want Justin Upton in the derby. He's a stud, he's a great player and he's a lot of fun to watch, so it's certainly understandable."

Fielder didn't have any problem with the boos during the All-Star game; he ended up hitting a three-run homer that lifted the National League to a 5-1 victory and home-field advantage for the World Series.

"They (Arizona's fans) and we should be thanking him," Braun said. "Prince was MVP of the All-Star game and whoever wins gets home-field advantage, but aside from that I think it's probably over with."

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ROOKIES RULE: When Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson starts Game 4 on Tuesday, it will mark just the 10th time since 1900 that a team has used two rookie starters in the postseason.

If the right-hander gets the victory, Tampa Bay will join the 1927 World Series champion New York Yankees as the only teams to get a pair of victories from its rookie starters.

George Pipgras and Wilcy Moore were the winners of Game 2 and 4 in the Yankees' four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tampa Bay rookie left-hander Matt Moore beat the Rangers in Game 1.

"Kind of an unusual thought," Rays manager Joe Maddon said before Tampa Bay lost 4-3 to Texas in Game 3.

Hellickson went 13-10 in the regular season.

"I have be to reminded that he is a rookie," Maddon said. "He's different. ... The way he pitched for us. He handles the moment extremely well."

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HOT BOX: Albert Pujols is well known for his offensive feats. The three-time NL MVP does the little things, too.

In Game 2 against the Philadelphia on Sunday, Pujols stayed in a rundown between third and home long enough for runners behind him to advance to second and third. It was a carbon copy of elusive footwork against the Cubs in the final homestand of the regular season.

Despite playing with a sore heel and ankle, Pujols flummoxed the Phillies.

"That's a really good example of how outstanding a baserunner he is," manager Tony La Russa said. "It takes a real good feel for when the throw is going to come and he has the quickness of a Michael Bourn or somebody, the way he looks, the number of throws that he generates."

Picking his spots carefully, Pujols was second on the Cardinals with nine steals in 10 attempts.

Pujols has been criticized for jogging to first base on automatic outs, but his manager doesn't mind.

"He plays the game, that's why he's got to save himself at times which gets some comments from fans," La Russa said. "You've got to save yourself some."

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WHAT DID HE SAY?: Jim Leyland and Joe Girardi both downplayed Detroit reliever Jose Valverde's declaration after Game 2 that the Tigers had the series wrapped up.

Valverde told reporters the best-of-five AL division series was "over" after Detroit evened its series against the Yankees at 1-1 on Sunday. Of course, it's hard to take too much at face value when the playful closer is talking.

"I do think he said — I think when you read all the stories about it — he admitted it was tongue-in-cheek when he said it," said Leyland, the Detroit manager. "I didn't take offense to the video at Yankee Stadium when they were talking about the World Series, like we were the junior varsity and they were getting ready for the World Series. I didn't take offense to that at all. In fact, I thought it was great. That's what they should be talking about. ... I would hate to think the New York Yankees or the Detroit Tigers need any bulletin board stuff to get fired up this time of year."

Girardi, who manages the Yankees, wasn't about to harp on Valverde's comments either.

"I wasn't in there, so I don't know the context," Girardi said. "You always talk about bulletin board material — the bottom line is you've still got to go out and play the game and you've got to win the game. I'm sure you wouldn't want someone not being confident in your team."

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HARRISON HANDLES IT WELL: Texas manager Ron Washington wants Game 4 starter Matt Harrison to continue what the Rangers' rotation has done all year.

"He certainly has shown that he has the ability to go out there and keep his team in the ballgame, which is what we ask all our starting pitchers," Washington said. "Give us an opportunity. We're very pleased with him."

Harrison, 14-9 in the regular season, got his first taste of the postseason by getting two outs out of the bullpen in Game 1.

"I think it definitely helped," Harrison said. "It was better for me to do than just throw on the side. I actually got into the postseason game and get the butterflies out of the way."

Washington agreed.

"For him to feel what it's like to be in a big stage and go out there and try to recognize it is the same," Washington said. "If you hit your spots and hit your pitches, good things can happen."

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ZIM'S TIME: Tampa Bay senior adviser Don Zimmer has been involved in the playoffs 18 times and considers the Rays' trip this season as the most remarkable.

The Rays were nine games out of playoff contention through Sept. 3, but recovered to earn the team's third postseason berth over the last four years.

"I've been in a lot of them, a lot of close ones, this club here, it's been phenomenal," Zimmer said.

Zimmer admits when he joined the Rays in January 2004 that the team becoming a regular in the playoffs seemed far-fetched. The franchise has made a dramatic turnaround under principal owner Stu Sternberg.

"No chance, and there it is," Zimmer said.

Zimmer is finishing his 63rd season in baseball and wants to be back in 2012. Completing a deal in the offseason would seem to be a simple formality since Sternberg has said that Zimmer can have a job with the organization for as long as he wants one.

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ROGERS RETURNS: Hoping to revive a bit of Game 3 magic, the Detroit Tigers welcomed Kenny Rogers back to Comerica Park to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday night.

It was Rogers who stunned New York in 2006, throwing 7 2-3 scoreless innings in Game 3 of that year's division series against the Yankees. The Tigers won that game and then wrapped up the series in four.

"I tried to the throw the ball so much harder than normal," Rogers recalled. "Then the next spring training I'm getting an artery taken out of my leg, but it was by far worth it for me."

As the crowd roared, the left-handed Rogers went to the mound and put a little extra speed on his throw, which Detroit's Brandon Inge caught at the plate.

"I'm excited that the Tigers have another chance to go to the World Series, getting into the playoffs," Rogers said. "It's great for the city, Detroit — probably the best fans that I was fortunate enough to be able to play for."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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