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February 19, 2012 at 7:54 AM

Chone Figgins plans on playing every day now that he’s healthy again

One of the first things Chone Figgins did after last season ended was get married and take off for a few days on his honeymoon. After that, he tended to a lingering hip problem that played a big role in derailing his 2010 season.
Figgins was fearful the injury might be a sports hernia, something that can take several months to heal. He went and saw a specialist in Philadelphia, who did a series of tests and determined it wasn’t a hernia.
The hip was actually getting better at the time and the doctor felt there’s no way that would happen if a hernia was the problem. So, Figgins flew to New York for an MRI and it was detertmined he had a labrum tear.
“The way it was explained to me was that it’s a piece of muscle that it got torn,” Figgins said. “And it kept getting caught in the socket in the hip. And then, it would pop back out.”
Painfully, each time. With lingering effects.
But not as bad as a sports hernia. Figgins was able to rehabilitate the injury throughout the winter and be ready for spring training. He did a series of exercises designed to increase the blood flow to the hip area so that the labrum stays strong and the injury doesn’t re-occur.
And Figgins says he’s now feeling strong enough to play every day. In fact, the team has told him he will play on a daily basis if indeed he’s put the injury behind him.
He says he was told he’ll play primarily — but not exclusively — at third base. Then, he’ll move around to “multiple positions” when needed.
“They asked me if I’d mind doing it,” Figgins said. “And I’m like, ‘No’. They said, ‘If we need you to move around some says, would you mind?’ and I said ‘No’.”
Figgins said there was only one thing he wanted, which he did express to the team.
“Like I told them ‘I’m going to be ready for wherever you play me in the lineup, as long as you play me every day’,” he said. “That’s something I care about.”
And where will he hit in the batting order?
“They haven’t said anything about that yet,” he said.

Figgins spent much of last year trying to adopt a more aggressive approach in the batter’s box, quite unlike the pitch-taking, walk-driven style he’s employed in previous years. At times, he seemed confused about what he really wanted to be doing up there, feeling he was at his best with the more-patient approach.
So, I asked him what approach he’d be using this year.
“That depends on where I’m hitting in the lineup,” he said. “That all determines it.”
Meaning, the more-patient approach if he’s in the leadoff role. The more-aggressive one if he’s batting elsewhere.
The Mariners have discussed moving Ichiro out of the leadoff spot and are giving indications they will at least try something different once Cactus League games start. Figgins would have to be the leading candidate to take over the No. 1 role, given his past experience and the fact the Mariners want to at least take a stab at getting the type of production they expected when they signed Figgins to a four-year deal.
If that happens, Figgins would have to play just about every day. So, it’s no surprise he’s been told that’s what the team plans to do with him.
Of course, this all assumes he comes back healthy this spring. If not, all bets are off.
Figgins admits it was a tough 2011 season, given the injury, the plate struggles and sporadic playing time. Then, in August, his wife’s father passed away during a series in New York and Figgins briefly left the team to be with her and attend the funeral.
He points out that, the prior year in 2010, despite early struggles and a much-publicized confrontation with former manager Don Wakamatsu, he had more hits each month of the season. There were 16 in April, 22 in May, 26 in June, 27 in July, 28 in August and 37 in September/October of that year.
But then came last year, when nothing really seemed to go right.
So, now he’s back, healthier and trying to make a go of it, knowing there’s a lot at stake.
“A new season, hopefully better things,” he said.
The Mariners can only hope.

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