First of all, I can understand why Chone Figgins is upset. He finally feels like he's putting together decent at-bats and then he is dropped in the order.
It's easy to see he was frustrated by the move. Even when he was told that manager Don Wakamatsu said the move wasn't about him directly. Figgins said:
“Obviously it is, because he moved me,” “Figgins said. “I’ve been getting on base and swinging the bat pretty good. Obviously it has something to do with me. "I think I've earned enough respect as a player and I'm still battling and I'm doing good, I should stay where I'm at."
Well that's all well and good.
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But Wakamatsu is managing a baseball team and trying to get wins, not cater to each person's desires. Yes, Figgins has been hitting better of late, but the Mariners still weren't scoring enough runs and winning enough games even with his improved offense. The Mariners are problems go beyond Figgins' production. So if putting him at the No. 9 spot will spark the rest of the team offensively then Wakamatsu has to do it and Figgins has to accept it.
It's completely understandable that he was upset about what he feels as a demotion and wanted to vent his frustration a little. He's a competitive, prideful guy and it would be probably speak worse of him if he was indifferent to the move. But he's the player, Wakamatsu's the manager. It's how it works. Wakamatsu can drop him in the order if he feels it best helps the team - and that logic justifies it.
A few minutes into our interview with Figgins, he went off about coming to play every day.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "I don't have anything to say. The fact is that I come to play. Anybody that ever knew me or watched me play this game, no matter where you hit me first, second or tenth, I'm going to come to play. If I come off the bench, I'm going to come to play 110 percent. Not anybody in this game can take that away from me."
"The same thing I do all the time, come to play every day," he said. "Every time something happens, when he took me out the first time to pinch hit for me, I still came to play. It's never going to change. There ain't nobody in the front office or in this game or any part of what this game is about can tell me any different, cause they will never see me not come to play?"I don't think that's ever been a question with Figgins. Nobody has ever questioned his effort - at least not anybody I've heard of, and certainly not me. Figgins plays unbelievably hard. He goes about his business like a true professional. More people need to act like him. No the only questions have been about the results - for him personally and how they affect the team.
The Mariners offense is anemic at best and ranks last or near last in most every offensive category. Not all of it is Figgins' fault, but some of it is. And if Wakamatsu feels like having Figgins hit ninth and Milton Bradley and others get going, then he needs to make that move. It's not like the lineup has to remain the same for the rest of the season. In fact, the Mariners have used a plethora of different lineups this season - 44 to be exact in 57 games. There's no reason for Figgins to think he's entrenched in the No. 9 spot for the rest of the season.
One of the things that I've noticed about covering professional athletes in the three major sports is how fragile some of their egos can be. They may give off the air of being this invincible super human on the field, but the smallest perceived slight can set them off.
Do I think Figgins is one of those guys? Not particularly. He's very professional. He was just upset at the time - call it heat of the moment. I'm sure he's not pleased about losing an at-bat every game. But this isn't about him personally, no matter what he thinks. It's about just another way to try and get this team to score runs. And that's what Wakamatsu's concern should be, not one of his player's feelings.