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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

July 21, 2011 at 8:35 AM

Chone Figgins in LF? Josh Lueke up, Kyle Seager down? Changes afoot for Mariners

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Lots of news breaking pre-game for the Mariners, who have optioned Kyle Seager to Class AAA and recalled pitcher Josh Lueke for depth. At least, that’s what they’re saying for now. Clearly, there are some tougher days ahead with one more here in Toronto — where temperatures are already up near the 100 degree mark on the humidex scale — and three more apiece in Boston and New York.
But if anything happens with Brandon League on the trade front this next week, it wouldn’t hurt to have Lueke up here. Lueke has thrown 49 pitches in a AAA outing, so he can go multiple innings in the “depth” role for now.
On the other trade front, Chone Figgins is in left field today. The last time he played there was back on Sept. 28, 2006 for the Angels against Oakland. If I’m not mistaken, that series was also the last time Adam Kennedy was a clean-up hitter prior to this year. Good times.

We spoke with Mariners manager Eric Wedge a short while ago and I asked him about the decision to put Figgins in left field now. Wedge is throwing a veteran lineup out there today, trying to snap an 11-game losing streak. He’s got Jack Wilson out there today and a happy Wilson was out on the field early, warming up by kicking a soccer ball around with Jeff Gray. Josh Bard is the DH because he’s 4-for-5 with a double, a walk and 2 RBI liftetime against Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero.
So, Wilson gets to take off the mummy bandages.
But Wedge also said he’d spoken to Figgins about doing this back in Anaheim, which was six or eight losses ago, so this isn’t all about snapping the losing streak. Something is up. Earlier this season, Wedge said he was reluctant to move Figgins around to multiple positions because he was having a tought time re-adjusting to third base.
There are rumors out there that the Reds — and possibly other teams — are looking at Figgins as a leadoff hitting addition and super-utility guy.
So, why the sudden willingness to move Figgins around the diamond when his third base defense — let’s face it — hasn’t improved all that much the last two months?
“Obviousy, with what we’ve seen on the field this year, he hasn’t been getting enough time,” Wedge said. “So, I figured, to help us from a versatility standpoint, give him an opportunity to play a little bit more and maybe it helps him out too. I mean, if a guy is going to be here for a while, we’ve got to do everything we can to try to get him going.”
Gotta hand it to Wedge, that was pretty creative. Especially the part he slipped in about how Figgins is going to be with Seattle for a while. Nice. Naturally, when you’re trying to deal a guy and get the other team to eat as much salary as possible, you want to give the impression you’re willing to hang on to him.
Now, we must remember, the reason Figgins hasn’t been “getting enough time” is because Wedge has nailed Figgins to the bench for over a month — including last night because the manager was still ticked at the veteran for getting picked off first on the back end of a first-and-third situation on Tuesday.
But, we’ll ignore all that for now and play along. OK then, why so comfortable moving Figgins around positions now when it didn’t seem like a good idea two months ago when he was still struggling at third? Especially since — as we saw Tuesday night — the defense isn’t that much better?
“If he was going out there and performing the way we’d hoped we would, I wouldn’t be bothering at all,” Wedge said. “You have to adjust to what’s been going on.”
Hey, all I can do is ask the questions. Keep an eye on the trade front.
And yeah, it’s true. If the Mariners can’t find somebody to take on Figgins and his $21 million in salary owed through 2013, then yeah, you’d have to find some role for him and a super utility guy might be it. But that sounds like a major Plan B.
Mariners (43-54)
51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
4 Adam Kennedy (L) 3B
30 Miguel Olivo C
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
3 Josh Bard (S) DH
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
9 Chone Figgins (S) LF
2 Jack Wilson 2B
58 Doug Fister RHP
Blue Jays (49-49)
5 Yunel Escobrar SS
46 Eric Thames (L) RF
19 Jose Bautista DH
26 Adam Lind (L) 1B
10 Edwin Encarnacion 3B
45 Travis Snider (L) CF
16 Corey Patterson (L) LF
9 J.P. Arencibia C
18 Mike McCoy 2B
24 Ricky Romero LHP

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins


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