Chone Figgins: ‘I want to help the team more than I have been’
Chone Figgins, mired in a monumental struggle at the plate, has been moved to eighth in the order and Brendan Ryan will hit second for the foreseeable future.
Eric Wedge has given Figgins every opportunity to work out his problems in the order where he most wants to be, but after a talk with him Monday morning, the new lineup was posted.
Shortly after, Figgins appeared at his locker and took questions from the order. He was cordial with not a hint of defiance in his voice or demeanor when discussing the move. He told us that he believed that he would be moved back when he got things going and that his biggest problem right now was that he was seeing good pitches, but not hitting them.
“I’m just not trying to miss my pitch,” he said of the changes he was trying to make. “Right now, I am in between because I am either seeing too many pitches and missing my pitch, or putting my pitch in play (and getting out) where I should be getting some hits or driving it.”
“My confidence level is always high,” he said at his locker, “and I feel good right now. I just need to get some hits, start walking some more and getting some hits. I am getting good pitches to hit and I am not putting good swings on them.”
While he stressed that his confidence has not wavered, he did admit that it was a relief that the team was winning despite his struggles.
“It’s making it easier, I’ll tell you that because we are winning,” he said with a smile. He then turned serious. “But for me it is still hard because I want to hit two and I want to help the team more than I have been doing.”
As for the man who is taking his place in the lineup, Figgins thinks it is a good choice.
“It’s great because he struggled earlier while he was trying to figure out how the whole American League thing works. He’s asked a lot of questions about it and he is doing good,” Figgins said of Ryan. “I am very happy for him. He’s stuck with it and he is believing in what he does.”
Wedge said that there has been an ongoing dialogue with Figgins and he reacted well to the news that he would be moving down in the order.
“He’s a pro,” Wedge said. “Ultimately, I think it is the best thing to do now for him and the rest of the team right now and ultimately, I think it is going to come back to him and our team.”
Figgins, who went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in a 4-3 win over the Orioles, said that hitting second or eighth should not make a difference in what he is trying to do.
“My confidence never changes,” he said. “It is just results aren’t there, but I go to the plate every time thinking I am going to get a hit or I am going to smoke a ball. I have still been rooting the guys on and trying to keep it under control. I never have been a person who snaps because I believe that I am going to come out and I believe that I am going to finish strong.”
As for the other part of the one-two tandem at the top, Ichiro looks like he could be pulling out of his slump. He singled twice, stole a base, and scored twice in Monday’s game.
Wedge said that he had Ichiro in his office this morning as well. I asked if there was any concern about an injury in light of what we have seen the last two weeks.
“He’s pressing a little bit, but health-wise he is fine,” Wedge answered. “He’s gone through spells before and he will come through this too. It is my job to support him, his teammates’ job to support him. I want to make sure he doesn’t put too much heat on himself. I want to make sure he doesn’t feel like he has to do it all by himself. I want to make sure he doesn’t focus on trying to do too much too quickly. We will see how it plays out. We will keep a close eye on him.”
Is there a possibility Ichiro could be moved in the order?
“It is not something I have thought about to this point,” Wedge said. “Like I have told you before, I’m the manager of the team, anything is a possibility. But don’t ever underestimate the power of timing in this game. Baseball, more than any other sport, 162 games, six months, if you are going to do something, you better damn be sure it is the right thing to do at the right time.”