Prince Fielder celebrates in the locker room after the Tigers won the American… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
SAN FRANCISCO — Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder?
The Dodgers cast their long-term lot with Gonzalez in August, acquiring him in a trade with the Boston Red Sox. They first tried to solve their first-base troubles last winter, reaching out to Fielder when the free-agent slugger appeared to have no good place to go.
"I definitely knew I was going to be able to play again," Fielder said Tuesday. "I just didn't know which team. I thought I was headed a lot of places."
Fielder, 28, is headed to his first World Series after hitting .313 with 30 home runs for the Detroit Tigers. Gonzalez, 30, batted .299 with 18 home runs for the Dodgers and Red Sox.
Baseball's biggest spenders — the Red Sox, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies — did not need a first baseman last winter. The Angels signed Albert Pujols for $250 million, but the St. Louis Cardinals had no interest in replacing Pujols with Fielder.
"Albert was an iconic figure for St. Louis," Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said. "He was somebody that we looked at and said, if we can find a way to make it work, we would.
"But, in terms of franchise-type contracts like that, like Fielder got, that was just not something we were pursuing as a fit for us."
The Dodgers offered Fielder several contractual options, one of which might have led to a deal had Detroit's Victor Martinez not blown out his knee in workouts in January. The Tigers, scrambling for a replacement slugger and mindful of the win-now edict of 83-year-old owner Mike Ilitch, jumped into the Fielder derby with a winning bid of $214 million.
"That was kind of out of nowhere," Fielder said.
Fielder declined to discuss his talks with the Dodgers, which ended when former owner Frank McCourt declined to match the Tigers' offer. Even Fielder said he was blown away when agent Scott Boras told him the number of dollars.
"I can't say what I said," Fielder said, laughing as he spotted a nearby microphone. "That was very exciting. The offer was great, as well as getting to play with a good team."
The Giants will return Tim Lincecum to the bullpen after a rocky start in the National League Championship Series. In 81/3 relief innings this postseason, Lincecum has given up one run and struck out nine.
The Giants opted to start the World Series with two left-handers — Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner — against a Detroit team that went 26-25 against left-handed starters during the regular season, 62-49 against right-handers.
Justin Verlander, the Tigers' Game 1 starter, is looking for his first career hit. He is 0 for 26 with 15 strikeouts, and he is wary of the vintage Zito curveball.
"He still has a good curveball," Verlander said. "But that thing back when he was with Oakland was just unreal, and I hope not to see it."