Seattle third baseman Chone Figgins and Mariner general manager Jack Zduriencik met behind home plate Saturday on the first day of the Mariners annual FanFest and talked over the reports that had the Oakland As, Toronto Blue Jays and other teams possibly being interested in trading for Figgins.
The result? It seems unlikely in the extreme that Figgins will be traded. He has a no-trade clause and more than that, he said Seattle is where he wants to stay.
Zduriencik then said Figgins would be the Mariners opening day third baseman.
“I talked to him and let him know how things like this get started, Zduriencik said.
“People hear things and pretty soon they start adding two and two together and getting five. Our plan is to open the season with Chone as our third baseman.
“What he said to me is that `I want to win, I want to be here in Seattle, Ive always loved playing in this ballpark. I want us to put together a club as we move forward that continues to compete. Im here to play for Seattle, Im here to win, and I want to be part of this thing as we move forward.
“I appreciate him saying that.
Starting Friday afternoon, Figgins phone was bombarded with texts and calls wanting to know if he was about to be traded.
Figgins said it wasnt disconcerting now, and it wouldnt be a problem come spring training.
“Ive been on the trade block for years, even with the Angels, Figgins said. “Its always a great thing to be wanted, but I’m a Seattle Mariner. I’m going to play third base unless they rip the jersey off me.
Figgins started last year with four different forces pulling at him. He signed his first big contract. He changed teams. He changed position, going from third base to second. And he changed spots in batting order, going to second as Ichiro Suzuki was established as the Mariners leadoff hitter.
As a result, he hit .259, his worst single-season total and his on-base percentage of .340 was close to being his worst. But the season splits show the difference between early Chone and late Chone. He hit .235 with a .332 on-base percentage in the first half, then improved those numbers to .286 and .349.
“Last year I tried to do a little too much, Figgins said in looking back. “I didnt attack the game. What that means exactly is hard to explain, but its about the way you play defense, run the bases and hit.
“I laid off too many pitches, pitches I should have hit. I got over that and the second half was a lot better. And this year Ill be back at third base, which will be good.
The end result is that Figgins doesnt want to leave, and the Mariners dont seem all that interested in trading him.
John Hickey is also Senior MLB Writer for AOL FanHouse (www.fanhouse.com)