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February 29, 2012 at 8:18 AM

Chone Figgins in center field today as Franklin Gutierrez sits out another Mariners intrasquad game

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Chone Figgins has been getting around. He looked good at shortstop yesterday and now will move over to center field as the Mariners look to expand his versatility.
Figgins has been a different-looking guy in camp so far. He added another walk and a line drive single to his spring resume yesterday.
Yeah, it’s looking more and more like this move to the leadoff spot is bringing out the best in Figgins. Not because he’s spraying balls all over the place. No, the big thing is he’s seeing a ton of pitches, Did not feel comfortable doing that last year.
The fact that his hip is healthy is also helping him out. Tough to be versatile and moving all over the field if you can’t, in fact, move.
Having a versatile Figgins could be even more key if this Franklin Gutierrez pectoral injury turns out to be anything serious. The team has yet to release any medical updates on Gutierrez, likely because they wanted to see how he’d feel coming in here this morning.


These pectoral things can be tricky. All it takes it a slight bit of discomfort to mess up a hitter’s swing, so even though Gutierrez appeared to be comfortable walking around the clubhouse after his MRI, that really means nothing. Nor will it matter if he can eat normally lifting a fork to his mouth.
No, all that will matter is whether he can throw a ball and swing a bat.
So, we’ll see what the MRI results state and then how the team decides to procede. If Gutierrez needs a week or two to rest the muscle, he’d be pretty limited in anything he could do conditioning-wise other than with his legs. No bench-presses or fancy trunk rotations with those new-fangled cables they installed in the weight room here two years ago. So, that becomes an issue as this team will be flying to Japan in three weeks prior to playing its season opener.
Of course, if Gutierrez needs just a few days off, it probably won’t impact his ability to begin a season. The tricky thing is, you don’t want to rush him back and have this pectoral thing become an ongoing issue.
So, some interesting news we’re all awaiting.
In the interim, we get to see Figgins play center. He hasn’t played there since 2006 with the Angels, appearing in 244 games at the position from 2003-2006. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) for those combined games was minus-8.5.
His combined UZR as an outfielder for his career is minus-15.7, while it’s a 29.2 for his career at third base. In other words, no, Figgins is not a full-time outfield solution, just a guy who can spell somebody for a game or two as the Mariners plan on doing.
If Gutierrez is out for any significant length of time, the field is wide open for Michael Saunders to walk in a win a job. Saunders is the best center fielder in camp besides Gutierrez, while Casper Wells is more of a corner guy. If the team needs a more full-time center fielder, Saunders could do that with Wells serving as the fourth outfielder. If all that’s needed is a center fielder once or twice a week, Wells would do that and Saunders would likely be Class AAA bound. But again, let’s wait for the medical update.
Figgins last played the outfield last season, appearing in two games in left for Seattle.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins

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