Posted: Thursday March 31, 2005 11:43AM; Updated: Thursday March 31, 2005 1:27PM
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Don't be surprised if Chone Figgins looks a little lost standing in one place during the first month of the season.
The Angels' everywhere man will start the season at second base, in place of the rehabbing Adam Kennedy, who won't be back in the lineup until early May. It will be a strange position for Figgins.
Not playing second base. Staying at second base.
Figgins played in 98 games in center last year (mostly when Garret Anderson was hurt), 92 at third base (mostly when Troy Glaus went down), 21 at short (while David Eckstein was injured), 42 at second (for a hobbled Kennedy), some in right field, some in left and a couple as DH.
He started games in five positions and played three positions in at least one game. He batted in six positions in the lineup, from leadoff to No. 9. If Figgins isn't moving around, something's wrong.
"If you talk to guys who play every day, they don't want to play a different position. But if you tell guys that to play every day, they have to play different positions, I think they would play different positions," Figgins said recently at the Angels' camp in Tempe, Ariz. "I think most guys would say that -- if they wanted to play."
Figgins filled in so admirably in so many ways last season -- he hit .296 in 148 games and had a team-high 34 stolen bases -- that manager Mike Scioscia was pushing him as an MVP candidate.
Scioscia will say second base is probably the place Figgins looks most at home. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound speedster was drafted as a shortstop but was moved to second in the minors. He had never played outfield until Spring Training 2003, when an Angels coach saw his speed and asked him to give it a try.
Now, after a lot of hard work, Figgins can -- and undoubtedly will -- play anywhere. Just don't ask him to pick his favorite spot.
"On the field," he said with a smile. "Just on the field."
All I'm saying is this: If Dr. Elliot J. Pellman tells me to take two aspirins and call him in the morning, I'm looking for a second opinion. It's not that I don't trust baseball's top doc, or that I think he's a liar. In fact, I think that in his brief moment before Congress he held up pretty well, considering the frothing politicians were asking the wrong questions of the wrong guy. But, really, come on with the resume stuff, doc. Those errors weren't clerical. They were comical. ... The Brewers' new owner, Mark Attanasio, is trying to nail down a four-year contract for star pitcher Ben Sheets that could be the biggest in franchise history. It's a good step. But, at the risk of further alienating Milwaukee fans, I wonder if there are enough interested potential ticket buyers there to fill the seats that need to be filled. ... So long and a tip of the cap to Andres (Big Cat) Galarraga, a player who overcame cancer and got to call it quits on his terms. ... The New York Post reported the other day that Pete Rose slapped a Las Vegas gossip columnist who said in a guide book that Charlie Hustle was a bad tipper. The record, officially, now stands at 4,257. ... And, a note to close out this last Spring Training Buzz of 2005: Newsweek recently reported another alarming effect of steroids: Shrinkage. No, no, no. We already knew about that. The shrinkage we refer to is in the prices for some classic baseball cards. According to the news magazine, Barry Bonds' 1987 Fleer rookie card, which topped out at one time for $2,200, is now worth $700. Mark McGwire's 1985 Topps Tiffany, which once went for 10 grand, now can be had for $600. And poor, poor Jose Canseco. His 1986 Donruss rookie card, good for $200 once, now is yours for a mere $25. The good news is that Canseco's card is still worth more than the paper that Juiced is written on.