Disaster in the Making? Chone Figgins Leading Off and Ichiro to Bat Third

better days.jpg
Chone Figgins in happier times.
Chone Figgins must have some compromising pictures of Eric Wedge stashed away somewhere. How else to explain 1) that he's still on the team, and 2) that he's going to be replacing the Mariners' greatest leadoff man ever. Sure, Ichiro has lost some fire and could use a change of scenery in the batting order, but . . .

Figgins has been unmitigated disappointment #1 since he signed that four-year, $36 million contract in the winter of 2010. (Click here for Seattle Weekly's post.) He was abysmal last year, playing just 81 games and hitting .188. Pathetic -- and now leading off!?

The Seattle Times is reporting that Wedge has confirmed that Figgins is moving up and Ichiro is heading to the three hole. Dustin Ackley is the frontrunner to hit second.

"I've done a lot of thinking about it this winter, of course,'' Wedge said. "I've talked about it a lot with coaches and Jack [Zduriencik] and everyone. I feel like the bottom line is for us to have the best lineup, one through nine, out there. I want our lineup to be extended. I feel like our best opportunity to score runs is with Ichiro hitting third for us. It helps the guy in front of him, it helps the guy behind him.''

Wedge goes on: "I'm confident that Figgins can get back to his old self as a leadoff hitter. That's when he was the Figgins that produced, that got on base, that scored runs. That was really a pain for opposing teams when he did lead off for Anaheim.

"I feel like, to give him the greatest chance to get back on track and succeed is to give him that opportunity leading off for us.''

Ichiro, meanwhile, has known for some time that something has to give -- that he no longer owned the leadoff spot and that the Mariners needed far more offensive punch than he's been able to deliver.

"Anything can happen in this game, it's not just leading off,'' he said, through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "That's the fun part about this game. Like I tell you guys all the time, I'm ready to pitch too. So, like I said, anything is possible.''

Ichiro told The Times he doesn't anticipate changing his approach or hitting style in his new role. "The situation of hitting third won't change my approach or hitting style,'' he said. "It will only change the situation with runners on base, that's it.''

That's it, all right. Another last place finish in the AL West is in the bag.

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