The Seattle Mariners rode six shutout innings from Kevin Millwood and a grand slam for rookie Alex Liddi today to a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers, allowing them to take two games in their three-game set.
Now come the Los Angeles Angels and the battle to get or stay out of the American League West cellar.
The more intriguing aspect of this weekend may be the return of veteran catcher Miguel Olivo, which requires someone be taken off the 25-man roster.
The candidates: rookie Liddi, outfielder Casper Wells and 25th man-on-the-roster Chone Figgins.
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When Liddi mangled a fly ball in the left field corner Wednesday, it didn’t help his cause. When he doubled, then hit a grand slam home run to help Seattle win, it may have further secured his position.
Wells is a right-handed hitting defensive specialist, as good an outfielder as the team has. He often replaces Mike Carp or Liddi in left field late in games.
What about Figgins?
It’s a question being asked by players in the Mariners clubhouse. To a man, they like Figgins. The reality, however, is if someone has to leave to make room for Olivo, why not a player who rarely plays?
The Mariners have better defensive reserves for the infield and outfield. When they’ve needed a pinch runner in recent weeks, it has been Munenori Kawasaki, not Figgins.
He has started twice in the last 18 games, and in his last 24 games is batting .133.
Yes, there’s a contract that will pay him $17 million this year and next. General manager Jack Zduriencik signed Figgins to a four year deal and has watched him lose his job each of the last 2 ½ seasons.
So, eat the contract and release Figgins?
That’s a tough admission of failure for any GM, eating $17 million of a deal. Still, it’s one that at least as to be considered.