Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/15/14

02 June 2009: Chone Figgins #9 of the Los Angeles Angels takes a big cut on June 2, 2009 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jays beat the Angels 6-4 in this night game at the Rogers Center in Toronto, ON. Photo via Newscom

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The Mariners have transitioned Chone Figgins from third base to a utility backup in the outfield and infield, to make room for promising new players. The Mariners announced their 25-man roster on Wednesday.

With Figgins out at third base, the Mariners can now concentrate on putting their most competitive lineup on the field. For instance, it would have been a shame to block Kyle Seager at third base. Seager is a better fielder and hitter than Figgins and factors into the Mariners’ long-term plan. Seager is poised for a breakout season, batting .360 and four homeruns during spring training in Japan.  

Backing up Seager will be rookie Alex Liddi who was a long shot to make the squad. Liddi will be with the Mariners for the first week or two until Franklin Gutierrez returns from disabled list.

The Mariners are handling Figgins well. Considering he has two more seasons left on a $36 million contract, the club is looking for a return on its investment, while maintaining its youth movement.  

The change in the lineup gives Figgins another chance to get his career back on track for the Mariners. He’ll be returning from Japan as the fourth outfielder for the first couple of weeks of the season. Michael Sanders will play centerfield with Guiterrez on the DL, Casper Wells will be in left field with Mike Carp on the DL, and Ichiro Suzuki starts his eleventh season in right field.

Figgins will need to get things going quickly at the start of the season, after struggling this spring at the plate with a .225 batting average.  Manager Eric Wedge hopes Figgins will return to the player he was in Anaheim. To help Figgins return to his old self, Wedge will put Figgins in the leadoff and will move Ichiro from the leadoff spot to the third spot. If Figgins slumps in May and June, he could be released.

Chone Figgins has been The Mariners’ biggest enigma in recent years. Hopefully with him returning to the top of the lineup will enable him to be more comfortable and productive at the plate.  One of Figgins biggest strengths is his versatility and he will lean on to wear different gloves throughout the season. Maybe the Mariners can catch lightening in a bottle with Figgins glove and bat.  It would suit Figgins to start sooner than later to get going because time is not on his side. 

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