Mariners may use Figgins at second base, with Lopez at third

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When the Mariners signed Chone Figgins to a four-year, $36 million contract this offseason the assumption was that he’d play third base after manning the position in 96.7 percent of his defensive innings with the Angels over the past two seasons.
However, early in camp Don Wakamatsu has frequently used Chone Figgins at second base with his 2009 second baseman Jose Lopez at third base, and yesterday the manager indicated that alignment could remain an option once the season starts: “There’s nothing right now that says that wouldn’t work that I’ve seen.”
Lopez has played just 25 career innings at third base compared to nearly 5,500 innings at second base, but has taken well to the potential switch and said yesterday that he’s “really comfortable right now” at the hot corner.
Switching positions has never been a problem for Figgins, who’s logged at least 150 career innings at six different spots, including 113 appearances at second base. Figgins played Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base last season, so there’s definitely some risk to shifting him to second base, but he figures to be an upgrade there compared to Lopez, who at times has been moved to first base thanks to his mediocre range.
It’s tough to say how Figgins will be at second base after not playing the position regularly since 2005 and it’s even tougher to predict how Lopez will fare at third base after not playing the position regularly, period. My guess is that they’d both be more or less average at the new spots, in which case the question is whether that would be better for the Mariners than being great at third base and below average at second base.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.