The Blue Jays Purchased a Fielder--but What They Got Was a Hitter

United Press International

His nickname may have a bit of humor behind it but there's nothing funny about what happens when Cecil Fielder hits the ball or what the slugger can do for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Fielder is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound first baseman. And with dimensions like those, it's no wonder at least two things can happen when he gets hold of a pitch.

The first is the ball can over the fence. The second is the ball can break in half.

"He's got great lightning wrists," Toronto manager Bob Cox said of his young hitter, whose contract was purchased from Knoxville o the Double-A Southern League on July 18.

"It's no secret we were searching for right-handed power. After looking around, we decided the man we wanted was right in our own organization.

"Our scouts all looked at him and said he was ready. In one recent game, he had a home run, a double, a single and five RBI."

Fielder has played primarily against left-handed pitchers who might give Willie Upshaw problems.

Cox has picked the right spots because Fielder, who played his 21st game Monday night and cracked the critical home run, was batting .333 with three home runs.

He hit in nine of his last 12 games (12-for-33, .364) with all three of his home runs and 12 of his season's 13 RBI.

"I get pumped up when I see RBI out there," Fielder said. "I'm a big guy. I'm no speedster. I'm supposed to hit the ball a long way. Bobby says he expects it from me. I'm doing it. He gave me a lot of confidence, putting me in the lineup right away."

Fielder isn't a regular. Yet. Come back again next year, Though. You'll find the 21-year-old (he turns 22 on Sept. 21) in there quite a bit -under first base and designated hitter.

That doesn't mean Willie Upshaw has to worry. It just means the left-handed hitting Upshaw will have to share some of his position with the right-handed power hitting Fielder.

Fielder pronounces his first name "Seh-sill"-as in Cecil B. DeMille. Or as in Cecil B. DeFielder, which is the nickname people in the press box have hung on him.

After all, if a man 6-foot-3, 230 pounds wants to be called Cecil of "Seh-sill," who's going to argue with him?

"He can really play first base," said Cox. "Know who he remids me of? George Scott when he first came up."

Toronto obtained Fielder from the Kansas City organization in 1983 after his first pro season. The Blue Jays asked for him when the Royals wanted outfielder Leon Roberts to give them some Right-handed bench and outfield strength.

Fielder was an All-Star his first year and made the South Atlantic League All-Star team despite playing just a half-season in 1984 before Toronto moved him up to Knoxville.

With Knoxville this season Fielder hit .294 with 18 home runs and 81 RBI in 96 games before he got the call to Toronto.

"I got called up in July and got in a few games against Oakland right away," Fielder said. "Since then I played a little bit but lately I've played a little bit more.

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