Mariners ask Figgins to move back to third base

Since day in December when the Mariners traded Jose Lopez to the Colorado Rockies, the great assumption was that Chone Figgins would shift from second base to his more natural position at third.

For weeks, it remained only an assumption because the team said nothing – until tonight. Gen

eral manager Jack Zduriencik said the Mariners have asked Figgins to move back to third.

“We have talked to Chone about going back to third base and he’s well aware of it,” Zduriencik said. “His response was, ‘Fine, I’ll do what is best for the club.’”

Figgins, who played 161 games last year at second base in his first season with the Mariners, has played the majority of his career at third. Moving him back there basically makes third base the most secure spot on the Mariners’ infield.

Justin Smoak goes into spring training as the first baseman, although he must avoid the hitting slump that earned him a ticket back to Class AAA Tacoma not long after he came to the Mariners in the Cliff Lee trade last year with the Rangers.

Jack Wilson is the shortstop but, because of injuries, has played only 92 games in 1½ seasons since coming to the Mariners. The Mariners acquired Brendan Ryan, a superb shortstop, from the Cardinals this offseason and he’ll be first in line if (or when?) Jack Wilson goes down.

Ryan has played 59 of his 404 big-league games at second base, so there’s a good chance he’ll be on that side of the bag come opening day.

“I’ve been told he’s very good over there,” Zduriencik said.

Zduriencik didn’t hesitate to mention Josh Wilson, who has filled in well at second, third and shortstop for the Mariners the past two years. Interestingly, Zduriencik didn’t mention the guy everybody expects to be the Mariners’ second baseman of the future (possibly by opening day if he has a monster spring training) – Dustin Ackley. There’s a strong feeling that Ackley, who played second base last year for the first time in his career, needs more time in the minors.

“When Jack Wilson is healthy, he’s a very, very good shortstop,” Zduriencik said. “We know that Brendan Ryan was rated one of the top defensive shortstops in the National League last year. And we’ve got Josh Wilson, who played a lot for us. We’ll see what happens and let it all play out.”

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