Originally posted on Seattle Times  |  Last updated 2/22/12
We've all heard the stories about how, in many a pro sports locker room, you'll have a veteran player or two who takes the heat off younger players by taking on all the media questions and deflecting blame. Right now, inadvertently or not, the same thing is going on with Chone Figgins and Ichiro. In fact, if the Mariners planned things this way, they'd be accused of brilliance. But no matter whether this was all part of some elaborate plan or not, the end result is that Figgins is taking on most of the fan ire, worry, heat and focus over yesterday's lineup switch while the guy who really ought to be getting the most attention -- Ichiro -- has been left largely pressure-free. Think about it. The Mariners have left it an open-ended question as to whether Figgins will keep his leadoff spot, seeming to imply that he's on a short leash and had better perform or else they won't put up with any more feeble-hitting nonsense. Meanwhile, Ichiro has been proclaimed as the No. 3 hitter this sea...
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