Cecil Fielder joined the Cleveland Indians on Friday, still simmering over the Anaheim Angels' decision to designate him for assignment in the midst of a fairly productive season.
"How many guys with my numbers are on the waiver wire?" said Fielder, who was not in the lineup against the Orioles. "I don't think it was just what was happening on the field. And I don't understand that, because I've always been the way I am."
Fielder, 34, was batting .241 with 17 homers and 68 RBI in 103 games before the Angels designated him for assignment Aug. 5. Part of the reason might have been his .244 average with runners in scoring position. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Fielder batted .169.
This has been a sore topic for the Indians lately. Entering Friday night's game, Cleveland was batting .252 with runners in scoring position in the second half.
"We knew the problem was there, but it really became apparent on the last road trip," manager Mike Hargrove said. "We're trying to work on it."
Fielder has other ideas about why the Angels put him on waivers. He says his agents, Jim Bronner and Bob Gilhooly, had a "gentlemen's agreement" with Anaheim general manager Bill Bavasi regarding incentive clauses that would increase the value of his $2.8 million contract. Fielder wouldn't say what the incentives were, but he said he was closing in on some of them.
If the incentives were not in the contract, as Fielder says, the Angels would not have to honor them.
"If I had seven home runs and 20 RBI, I could understand," Fielder said. "But I had an opportunity to drive in 100 runs. ... I've seen some crazy things in baseball. This is one of the craziest ever."
Fielder, sorting through his wallet and tucking his Continental Airlines ticket in his locker, said he was ready to help the Indians. He will play first base and DH against mostly left-handd pitching.
"And if somebody's struggling and needs a day off, we'll run him out there and let him play," Hargrove said.
The Indians, playing .500 ball since the All-Star break, could use a lift as they try to gather momentum heading into the playoffs. Fielder could help. He joined the Yankees late in the 1996 season and helped them win the World Series, batting .308 with three homers and 14 RBI in 14 postseason games.
"I understand that the game is a grind," Fielder said. "Some guys are working hard and it's just not working out. Maybe I can help. If they want to come to me and talk to me about something, I'm good for that. I'm pretty good in the clubhouse."
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