Sunday, March 16, 2014
One giant leap for Chone Figgins' comeback
By Mark Saxon
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers’ clubhouse Sunday morning had the buzz of a camp in motion. Players were packing their gear into blue Dodgers duffel bags and cardboard boxes for the trip to Australia.
So far, the Dodgers’ attitudes toward opening their season 7,500 miles from home have ranged from grudging acceptance to Zack Greinke's “zero excitement,” comment. But not everybody feels that way. One player, in particular, Chone Figgins, was delighted to be boarding the plane for another continent.
After two dismal seasons in Seattle and one year away from the game, he’s one step away from making the Dodgers’ roster. When Figgins arrived at camp, he said his goal was to get on the plane to Australia.
Mission accomplished, but not quite completed. The Dodgers are taking 30 players to Sydney, only 25 of whom will be active when they play the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night. It sounds as if Figgins, 36, has an excellent chance to be one of them though he’s batting just .171 in the Cactus League. Despite the low average, Figgins has a .333 on-base percentage because he has walked nine times.
He’s also the most versatile player in camp defensively. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly confirmed that Figgins will go to Australia.
“His at-bats have been the kind of at-bats we like. He’s shown that he can play everywhere on the field, so there’s definitely a value there,” Mattingly said. “We still feel like the body’s live. He’s moving good, he’s running good, he’s had no issues. We like what we’ve seen and we do feel like the at-bats will get better and better.”