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: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.