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December 8, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Chone Figgins ready to bat second and play second if he has to

Chone Figgins sounds like one relieved guy now that his physical is finally done and he’s $36 million wealthier. Listen to Larry Stone and myself, in the video above, as we take a look at the Figgins move and the possibility he won’t begin the season at third base.
Figgins was like plenty of Mariners fans the past few days as he waited for this process to get the official stamp of approval. He admitted to being nervous when he went to bed last night not knowing the results of bloodwork he’d submitted to a clinic to get analyzed.
When he awoke to catch his flight back home to the Tampa area in Florida, he still didn’t know whether the bloodwork was OK and the deal finalized. Only when he got off the plane did he learn he was officially a Seattle Mariner.
“It was pretty nervewracking last night to try to sleep and have to get on a plane the next day and not be able to get on the phone with anybody to get the results,” Figgins said.
Figgins then got on a phone with the Seattle press corps and a few media from Anaheim in a conference call that lasted 12 minutes and took place as he was driving home from the airport. I asked Figgins about the delay in announcing whether he’d play third base — with the team still looking at a possible free-agent deal with Beltre — and which position he’d be most comfortable at if he had to move.
“It would probably be second,” he said. “Me and Jack (Zduriencik) kind of talked, so it would probably be second. I’ve moved around pretty much my whole career except last year, but even then I played a couple of games at second base. So, I think those guys know that I’m pretty much prepared for anything.”
I guess Mariners fans will have to be as well, because Zduriencik tonight said he wasn’t ruling anything out where Beltre is concerned. By the way, Zduriencik has a closed-door meeting tonight with Scott Boras, the agent for Beltre.
As far as the batting order goes, Figgins pretty much justified the reason why the team should have him bat second.


“I was just personally thinking that Ichiro is obviously one of the best leadoff hitters in the game,” he said. “He’s able to do what he’s doing in the one-spot, so I figure with me plugged into the two-spot, being a little more patient at the plate, it makes an even more dangerous tandem at the one-two spot.”
Later, he added that: “Obviously, Wakamatsu makes the decisions.”
But the thinking of Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and the rest of the team’s braintrust in leaning in that direction as well. The team is reluctant to “fix” what isn’t broken with Ichiro, coming off one of the best seasons of his career, and there is also a mindset that the ability of Figgins to take more pitches makes him better-suited for the No. 2 spot.
Wakamatsu said tonight that he’s going to hold off any decisions for now and may not make his final one until well into spring training. But he said a whole bunch of private conversations would have to take place first before the team contemplated any major changes at the top of the order.
For now, I’d bank on Figgins batting second.
Figgins is looking forward to reuniting with Wakamatsu and a Mariners coaching staff he knows very well from his time in the majors and minors. Wakamatsu had him in Anaheim as a minor league co-ordinator and instructor, as did M’s hitting coach Alan Cockrell when he was a minor league hitting instructor in Colorado. New third base and infield coach Mike Brumley had him as a Class AAA manager for two years with the Angels organization.
So, he seems genuinely pleased to be on-board, no matter where he bats or plays.
This whole Beltre thing sounds a little premature, since the Mariners would be one of several teams bidding for him. But the fact the team has yet to name Figgins as a third baseman shows Zduriencik and company are serious about trying to take a run at landing Beltre at a discounted rate compared to what he might have gotten a year ago.
Zduriencik admitted that things are moving somewhat slowly at these meetings. I asked whether there were any instances where a player he came to the meetings thinking he could land wound up costing too much in terms of trade and he said that indeed that had been the case.
“There’s a supply and demand,” he said. “That’s one issue that ties into everything. Contracts tie into it. How much you value your young players ties into it. There are clubs where the pressure to win immediately is a factor. Other clubs have a long term vision because they feel that they can’t win for a few years.
“So, there are so many of those things. So, when you come here and all of a sudden you’re in and now you have 30 people (meaning GMs) it’s much easier to go down to the lobby and hear conversations going on with everybody. So, the information flows a lot here. Some true, some not true. So, the more information you have, it sparks things. And all of a sudden you may think you can come here and you might be able to do something, then all of a sudden you find out that a club has three other people that are interested in the same player they may have shopped to you.”
One of Zduriencik’s potential targets as these meetings had been Tigers left fielder Curtis Granderson and pitcher Edwin Jackson. But both were dealt in a three-team swap today with the Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks.
Zduriencik was asked what he thought of the move and he replied: “There were a lot of good players in that deal that exchanged hands.”
It appears the asking price by Detroit might have been more than Zduriencik was willing to part with in the case of both players.
Now, he has to move on to what’s next. He described the situation here as “fluid” and added that it could change at a moment’s notice once one or two moves are made by someone. But for now, he described a “feeling out process” by both agents and teams when it comes to trades and free agency.
That means the Figgins deal will likely be the only one the M’s get done tonight.

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