One game into the new season, Chone Figgins is on pace to steal 324 bases, Ichiro Suzuki 162 - and they need to fix a few things.
No. 1, Ichiro needs to let Figgins know when he's about to take off - and opening night was the perfect example.
Ichiro stole second base and, with Figgins at the plate and a 3-1 count, Ichiro lit out for third, where he was called out on a close play. Would it have made any difference if Figgy knew Ichiro was going?
"If Ichiro lets Figgins know, Figgins can square around at the plate and force the third baseman to make a choice - charge the plate or play back," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Most third baseman are going to come in, and if they don't and Figgins gets a strike, he can drop the bunt and Ichiro's at third base, either way."
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It's one of those works-in-progress for Seattle.
"You just don't see many teams with back-to-back base-stealers," Figgins said. "Ichiro and I are still getting used to one another, but having us at the top of the lineup makes a huge difference.
"If he's on first base and I single, we're almost always going to be first-and-third base. If I hit one in the gap, he's going to score and I might be at third base. That's how speed can change games."
Figure the stolen base pace will drop off just a bit. But figure, too, that Ichiro and Figgins will work out signs between the two of them that will allow Figgins to help when Ichiro is running. It's a combination that figures to improve as the season goes along.
And now, a lineup vs. lefty Dallas Braden:
- Ichiro, RF
- Chone Figgins, 2B
- Franklin Gutierrez, CF
- Milton Bradley, DH
- Jose Lopez, 3B
- Casey Kotchman, 1B
- Eric Byrnes, LF
- Adam Moore, C
- Jack Wilson, SS
- Ian Snell, P