Why the Mariners could move Chone Figgins to leadoff

Feb 9, 2012, 6:08 PM | Updated: 6:59 pm

By Brady Henderson

Chone Figgins‘ disastrous first two years in Seattle left some to assume that the Mariners would cut bait with their underperforming infielder sometime before the 2012 season begins.

Suddenly, Figgins is being discussed as a candidate to replace Ichiro in the leadoff spot.

Figgins-statsFOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal advocated such a move in his latest column, writing that the Mariners have little to lose by giving Figgins a shot at hitting in the same spot he thrived in with the Angels.

Bill Krueger, a former MLB pitcher and current analyst for ROOT Sports, shared a similar opinion Thursday during a conversation with “Bob and Groz.”

“You’ve got a lot invested in Figgins and he’s never really been given the opportunity to be this leadoff guy that he’s been most of his career. He just wasn’t a very good fit to hit No. 2,” Krueger said. “The problem is that he just can’t drive the ball in the alley. So you need to let him walk and bunt and slap and lead off. He’s a little bit more of a discerning leadoff hitter — he’s going to take some walks.”

Figgins, 34, has hit .236 since signing a four-year, $36 million contract with the Mariners prior to the 2010 season. He’s guaranteed $17 million over the remaining two years of that deal.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge told 710 ESPN Seattle last month that he’s leaning toward moving Ichiro out of the leadoff spot. Figgins was one of the players Wedge mentioned as a potential replacement.

“Maybe he rediscovers his game,” Krueger said. “That would be a huge bonus for the team, so why not try to explore that? I think that’s a good idea.”

Krueger offered the caveat that Figgins would have to earn that spot in spring training, and added that the Mariners wouldn’t be obligated to keep Figgins in the leadoff spot if he wasn’t performing.

Bob and Groz weigh in on the possibility of Figgins hitting leadoff in the video below.

You can download Thursday’s podcast here.

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Why the Mariners could move Chone Figgins to leadoff