With the postseason in sight, the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers are now forced to deal with an array of distractions, the biggest of which being Prince Fielder -- the team's first baseman and top slugger who has confirmed this season is likely his last with the Brewers.
I'm signed for this year, but being real about it, it is probably the last year, Fielder said in an interview with TBS.
He later confirmed his earlier statements following the Brewers' 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
It is what it is, he said.
This is surprising news from Fielder, the three-time MLB All-Star and first Brewer to win the Home Run Derby (2009), who has been a top contender for the NL MVP this season, batting .295 and racking up 32 home runs and 109 RBIs. Thanks to contributions from him and prolific outfielder Ryan Braun, the Brewers had been comfortably perched atop the NL Central.
This game we play is a job, it's a profession, Braun says. Sometimes I think we lose sight of that, which is a good thing. But there's always a business side. Everybody has to do what is in their best interest.
Things are starting to slip away for the Brewers. With two weeks left in the regular season, the Brewers' lead over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals has shrunk down to 5 ½ games after holding a 10 ½ game lead roughly a week ago. The team has dropped six of its last eight games, and combined with the Cardinals winning seven of their last eight games, the Brewers need to keep their composure.
We've hit a little bump right now, Fielder says. We're still ahead. I don't see the need for worry quite yet.
The Brewers have been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan exchanged words with Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter after Carpenter struck out Morgan at the plate. Morgan threw a wad of his chewing gum at the pitcher, both benches and bullpens cleared, and Morgan was ejected from the game.
A day later, newly acquired pitcher from the Mets Francisco Rodriguez told CBSSports.com that he was not happy with his role on the team. K-Rod was brought on to share saving duties with Brewers closer John Axford, but so far Axford has done all the heavy lifting and Rodriguez has only finished one game, which was also in a non-save situation.
I'm pretty much trying to come in every day, ready to pitch, and get my job done when they needed me, Rodriguez said. But at the same time, I had an expectation like every other player. They told me they were going to do something, and they didn't. That's why I'm a little disappointed with the situation.
With only 12 games left in the regular season and the Cardinals hot on their heels, it's do-or-die time for the Brewers.
No time to panic, just something we have to overcome, Morgan says.
The Brewers' road to the postseason is hazardous. The team is about to embark on a six-game road trip against its division rivals in the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs. Milwaukee will close out the regular season at home against the Florida Marlins and the Pittsburgh Pirates.