It was a fairly uneventful introductory press conference at Safeco Field today. Obviously the news of the Chone Figgins deal broke over a week ago, and the recent news of the blockbuster trade that would send Cliff Lee to the Mariners kind of overshadowed Chone Figgins appearing before the local media and donning a No. 9 Mariners jersey.
While the possibility of acquiring a former Cy Young winner, the acquisition of Figgins is important in terms of the success of this organization.
GM Jack Zduriencik said this:
"I can tell you I think we hit a home run here. Not only is this a terrific addition on the field, but in the clubhouse. The influence he is going to have here will be pretty special to all of us."
Figgins, who was mindful of the organization that gave him his chance at the big leagues - the Angels, thanked several people in that organization.
But then he moved on to this place with the Mariners.
One of the most interesting comments was Figgins' thoughts on the changes he saw in the Mariners last year, which allowed himself to be comfortable leaving a good situation with the Angels to come to Seattle.
"You make a decision in life and for me as a player I want to go place where I can fit in," he said. "I know the coaching staff over here. I talked to the players numerous times on the field or played against them. The direction that they are headed in - -I told the Jack the one thing that caught my attention last year was Gutierrez bunting with a runner on third, which before I didn’t see them do. Right there, that told me they were an organization that was willing to win and sacrifice to win."
He didn't necessarily see that before in past years playing against the Mariners.
"They had the players, they had the players," Figgins said. "But sometime it’s sacrificing. Are you going to sacrifice to win ball games? All of us goes through it, all of us have that selfish side that wants to get the big hit, that wants to make the big pitch or get the big play. I think as you mature as a player and as an organization, you start to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and you try to build on those things."
But it was also the move Zduriencik has made to make the team better in such a short time that made Figgins optimistic.
"I just went with what I felt, which is they were headed in the right direction," he said. "By acquiring me, that means they know I love to win and I’m going to do everything I can to win. I think with Jack and the two acquisitions he made before with Gutierreaz and Jack Wilson, that lets me know that he’s going in the right direction and he’s going to put a team together that’s going to compete every day."
Figgins was asked if moving to the No. 2 spot in the order behind Ichiro would change his approach at the plate.
"It doesn’t change," he said. "One thing I learned from Bobby Abreu – no matter where you hit in the lineup it doesn’t change. Ichiro is going to continue to do whatever he does. As far as what I need to do on the field it stays the same. As far moving a runner over, or working a count, things like that, trying to drive a run in, it’s not going to change."
Zduriencik was asked about Figgins role with the team, if has been determined whether he will be playing third base or second base.
"We still have balls we’re juggling," Zduriencik said. "We’ve talked about this. We know Chone will be in our infield until this whole period is over. The one thing that Chone has asked and we assured him of this is before we go into spring training he’ll know where he’ll be."
To close up the press conference, Figgins was reminded about his former team and the losses they lost, including himself, John Lackey and possibly Vlad Guerrero, and whether or not he sees a shift in he balance of power in the AL West. While he wouldn't say so definitely, he did make a declaration.
"The Angels still have great organization," he said. "They got some guys can still play over there. It’s going to competitive. I think it’s time for the Mariners to step up and try to win divisional title. It starts by winning the division."