So for those wondering if the Las Vegas dinner where John Mozeliak presented Dexter Fowler with the plan to move him to right field turned into a heated conversation, the answer is no.
“We sat down and just talked,” said Fowler. “My wife actually came and she goes, ‘Mo, so why did you really come out here?’ She cuts to the chase. We were sitting there and talked through it–I thought it was a good idea. I thought it was a good idea and the rest is history.”
After playing all but one of his 9240.2 innings in centerfield, the idea of moving from to right was really okay by the end of dinner?
“100%,” stated Fowler. “100%. Yeah, I feel like I can save my legs a little bit and probably help me throughout the rest of my career. Maybe play five or six more years.”
That reaction is a stark contrast to Fowler’s reaction to the topic last season. On more than one occasion, he voiced that he was a centerfielder.
“I didn’t want to do anything in the middle of the season,” he explained. “That’s out of the question. If I’m in right field, that’s where I’m going to be. I’m gonna be in right field–and I’m fine with that. But learning a new position in the middle…that’s not something I’m interested in.”
Right field is not completely foreign to Fowler, who played the position some in high school and the Arizona Fall League.
“I can catch a fly ball, so I’ll be alright,” he smiled.
As for the biggest difference in sliding over from center to right?
“I don’t have to run as much,” smiled Fowler. “Obviously, right-handed and left-handed batters it’s going to come off a little bit different. I think the vantage point is what I’m going to have to get used to.”
“When I first came up Brad Hawpe and I had (Matt) Holliday had left, and they were like ‘look, I got from here over and you got everything else’ and I got out there today and I was like I kinda know what they were talking about. Now you only have this line and you have the stands right here. It’s only going here or over here. So I’m going to tell Tommy Pham the same thing.”
The feeling was later reiterated during a conversation with Willie McGee.
“He started laughing and said ‘Man, it’s so much easier on your legs. You’re going to thank them later.’ He said ‘let the young bucks run around’ I said I understand now. I understand.”
Perhaps most importantly, after a 2017 season that brought issues with bone spurs, a strained shoulder and forearm, Fowler is feeling healthy. A full off-season to recover has helped and Brand Jordan has provided a molded cleat to help with the bone spurs.
“I’ve put on 15lbs,” shared Fowler. “So to be out there and maybe have a little bit more thump–and I don’t have to run as much in right.”
The weight gain, which he says has helped his strength but not hurt his speed, is a combination of working out and maturity. Fowler will turn 32 years old in March.
“I told Mike, I might be the biggest lead-off hitter in the game,” he laughed before adding he now has “man muscles”.
photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports; Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com