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Matt Kemp, Tony Gwynn Jr. tried to lure Prince Fielder to Dodgers

February 21, 2012 | 11:54 am

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Matt Kemp said he actively recruited Prince Fielder over the winter and was convinced he would be in the same lineup as the former home-run champion in the upcoming season.

“I was getting real confident in our chances of getting him,” Kemp said.

Kemp said he spoke to Fielder several times.

“I knew we were getting pretty close,” he said. “I didn’t know Detroit was in.”

The Detroit Tigers responded to a potentially season-ending injury to Victor Martinez by sweeping in with a last-minute, nine-year, $214-million offer that Fielder accepted. The Dodgers had offered Fielder a seven-year deal worth around $160 million.

Tony Gwynn Jr. jokingly said he would accept responsibility.

“You can blame it on me, for sure,” Gwynn said.

Gwynn and Fielder are former teammates and close friends. Gwynn said they talked several times during the off-season about the possibility of Fielder signing with the Dodgers.

“I figured I could have done a better job,” Gwynn said.

Gwynn said Fielder asked him about what it was like to play in Los Angeles. In particular, Fielder wanted to know how the ball travels at Dodger Stadium.

“I lied to him, actually,” Gwynn said.

He said he told Fielder, “It’s not that bad once June rolls around.”

Overhearing that from several lockers away, Kemp laughed.

Gwynn said he didn’t press Fielder for details about his negotiations with the Dodgers.

“I tried not to get in his business,” Gwynn said. “As a friend, it’s tough to intrude on that part.”

Said Kemp: “It would have been fun to have him over here. But we’ve got a good first baseman in James Loney and I think he’s going to have a big year.”

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— Dylan Hernandez in Phoenix

Photo: Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder takes part in fielding drills during a spring training session in Lakeland, Fla., on Monday. Credit: Julian H. Gonzalez / MCT

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