Kinsler: Trade to Tigers best thing for his career

Kinsler: Trade to Tigers best thing for his career

ARLINGTON -- Two days after Prince Fielder sat at a podium at Globe Life Park and announced that neck injuries had ended his baseball career, the other piece of the Tigers-Rangers trade returned to Texas.

Ian Kinsler doesn't want that trade to define his career, and yet he believes the deal rejuvenated it.

"It's the best thing that's happened," said Kinsler, back at his former ballpark for the third time since being traded for Fielder after the 2013 season.

Kinsler admits he didn't look at it that way when the trade happened. He had eight good years in Texas, a pair of World Series trips, three All-Star selections, made his home in the area and was in the middle of a long-term contract, hoping to be a Ranger for his entire career. The deal, which went down while he was on vacation, stunned and frustrated him.

"It had nothing to do with Detroit," he said of his emotions. "It was just the way everything happened and where I thought I was in [regard] with the [Rangers] organization."

As he looks back now, enjoying his third season anchoring the Tigers' middle infield, he thinks maybe he needed to be stunned, to be taken out of his comfort zone.

"I didn't know a lot about Detroit," he admits. "I knew about the ballclub, and I knew about the owner, but I didn't really know a lot about the city, and not too much about the organization. And coming here was honestly just a breath of fresh air. It was a breath of fresh air for my career, and it was a breath of fresh air for my family. And it's been nothing but positive for me personally, whether it's on the field or off the field.

"Toward the end of my time in Texas, things got kind of stale, so to be able to be traded to an organization like Detroit really allowed me to kind of reflect on who I was as a player and what I needed to do to improve. And it's been nothing but great things for me. If I have the opportunity to end my career here, I would love to."

Short of a World Series title, he enjoyed all the success he could ask for with the Rangers. Leaving Texas forced him to reset, to almost prove himself over again, to win over a fan base that only knew him as a pesky opponent.

And he has done that many times over. The cooler climate in Michigan has helped him physically stay fresh, he said, but the new surroundings have been friendly all around.

"Detroit so far has been a perfect place for me," he said. "As far as the fans understanding the way I play the game, they've obviously shown support for me. They've appreciated the way I play. My family loves it there. I enjoy the history of the organization.

"There's really nothing that I can say is a negative. I mean, at the time I wasn't happy, but now, three years in, it couldn't have been a better thing to happen to me."

As for Fielder, Kinsler watched the news conference and felt nothing but empathy.

"I think it affects everybody in the league when you see a guy like Prince Fielder have to end his career early. It's not just me," he said. "You see a guy who obviously enjoys playing the game, has been a multiple-time All-Star, a star in the game, a name that everyone knows, and to have to retire early at 32 is always an eye-opener for everybody. I watched his press conference, and it just kind of brings into perspective what we do day in and day out, and how quickly it can be taken."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.