Chone Figgins managed make himself fairly invisible yesterday after the decision by Mariners manager Eric Wedge to demote him to a utility role. Figgins knew the move would create a lot of discussion around Seattle and didn’t want to make himself the center of attention prior to his team’s game.
I caught up with Figgins this afternoon after he’d done some early work out on the field prior to batting practice.
Figgins told me he knew he wouldn’t have unlimited time to get things going this season. I asked him whether he was surprised at the move made yesterday. He thought about it for a moment, then smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said.
Then, he added: “I have to respect his decision. He’s the manager. He knows I want to be out there.”
Figgins told me several weeks ago that he was having trouble with chasing balls that were outside the strike zone. He said at the time he felt that his hip problems last year — which caused him to miss a number of games — were probably contributing to his inability to see pitches well enough to know not to chase.
“It’s one thing to do well in spring training,” he said at the time. “But that’s not really what you face once the regular season starts. The regular season is entirely different in terms of the pitches you see. You can’t make up for missing all that time just by going to spring training.”
The strikeouts we’ve seen from Figgins — 28 in 25 games — are unlike anything he’s done in his career. Wedge was baffled by them as well, but held out as long as he could in hopes Figgins could turn it around quickly.
But once this losing streak hit six games (now seven) all bets were off. It’s one thing to cater to a Figgins and nurture him along in hopes of a recovery when the team is hovering around .500. When it’s in freefall like this, you have to do what you can to pull the squad out of it. Figgins was the No. 1, most obvious target for change.
“I feel good,” he told me, spreading his hands in a ‘What can I tell you’ gesture. “Like I told you before, I feel great. I’m back to driving the ball, hitting to the middle of the field.
“My going out of the zone is still off. Other than that, everything feels great.”
Figgins said there are things he continues to work on to get right again. He’s trying to stay sharp and focused for when the team calls on him again.
“I know I’ll get another opportunity at some point,” he said.
Just not as many as before. Now, he’ll have to make the most of whatever the team gives him.”