- Associated Press - Thursday, July 10, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Prince Fielder is focused on healing after neck surgery and not worried about when he will play again for the Texas Rangers.

“I’m motivated (to play), but I just want to heal first. I’m not trying to push anything,” Fielder said Thursday. “That’s what got me in this situation now. I’m trying to be a little smarter.”

It was the first time Fielder spoke to reporters in the clubhouse since his cervical fusion of two disks in his neck on May 27. The first baseman said he is doing a little rehab, but nothing too serious or baseball-wise yet.

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Fielder isn’t expected to play again this season, but should be ready for spring training.

“Right now, not really worried about the baseball part,” he said. “Worried about just actually letting it fuse and letting it heal. Baseball stuff, that’ll be there, obviously. But I just want to heal first before I do anything. Once I get cleared to do something, I don’t know how to do under 100 percent.”

When he played his last game on May 16, Fielder had appeared in 547 consecutive games since 2010, then the longest active streak in the majors. He hit .247 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 42 games in his first season with Texas after being acquired last November from Detroit for Ian Kinsler.

Asked if his neck problem was the cause of his low offensive production, Fielder shrugged his shoulders.

“It definitely doesn’t help trying to hit with a herniated disk, but I don’t know if it’s the cause,” Fielder said.

Fielder, who is under contract through 2020, said he couldn’t pinpoint a specific time when he started to experience discomfort in his neck. He just knows he was hurting during the spring, and that he tried to play despite constant irritation that he said has subsided since the surgery.

“I’d like to see what a healthy Prince is,” manager Ron Washington said. “What happened to him, he couldn’t prevent it. … We do feel that he’ll get a full recovery. Hopefully he can stay healthy for us and continue to produce as he has in the past.”

Fielder’s conversation with reporters came a day before the ESPN The Magazine Body Issue hit newsstands. The 275-pound slugger had a nude cover shot for the issue that had already been circulated.

He took the expected ribbing from teammates. The shoot was done before Fielder’s surgery.

“Everything’s been good so far I guess,” he said. “Yeah, just happy I did it, it was pretty cool. You don’t have to have a six pack to play sports or to be an athlete, so I figured I’d give it a shot, see how it looks”

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