Ex-Mariner Dave Valle empathizes with Chone Figgins

Jul 14, 2011, 12:20 PM | Updated: 12:31 pm

By Ian Powell
Special to 710Sports.com

Chone Figgins likely hasn’t garnered much sympathy from Mariners fans, but one former Mariner understands what it’s like to not live up to a lucrative contract.

In 1991, Dave Valle, a second-round pick by the Mariners in 1978, signed a three-year, $3.6 million contract that kept him in Seattle. That season he hit .194.

Valle2
Catcher Dave Valle spent 10 seasons with the Mariners. (AP)

Valle heard the same boos at the Kingdome that greet Figgins at Safeco Field. Norm’s Eatery & Ale House in Fremont sells some beers based on Figgins’ batting average, just like Swannies in Pioneer Square did with Valle in 1991.

“It’s very difficult. For me, I just signed a three-year deal and I got off to a horrendous start … at the All-Star break I think I was hitting .154 and I was playing everyday and there was nowhere to hide,” Valle told Bob & Groz on Wednesday, noting that his contract was considered substantial back then. “Every time my name was mentioned in that Kingdome, including when the starting lineups were mentioned before the games started, I was booed. Every time I got up to the plate I was booed.

“You start to feel this pressure and then for myself, what was happening was if I didn’t get a hit my first two times up and we were losing, that fifth or sixth inning, then I got pinch hit for. So, all of the sudden my games came down to two at bats and those two at bats, I mean, were just pressure packed for me, feeling that desire to perform, to live up to the expectations that not just the fans have but the ones you have as a player.”

Figgins struggled last season in the first year of his four-year, $36 million contract. But unlike Valle, who improved his average to .240 and .258 the next two seasons, Figgins is batting .183, has been unspectacular at third base has been relegated to a $9 million-a-year bench player.

“I think a lot of times — and I think history shows this — a lot of guys who’ve signed big deals, that first year they really have a difficult time playing just the way they’ve always played,” said Valle. “Although, this is Chone’s second year into this contract and it’s tough to see because I know. I know what he feels like. I know what it was like for me coming across the I-90 bridge heading to the Kingdome going, ‘Oh man, here it goes again.’ “

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Ex-Mariner Dave Valle empathizes with Chone Figgins