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.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.