The Seattle Mariners have clearly put their focus on defense and pitching since Jack Zduriencik took over as general manager.
A team with little power figures to have even less after letting slugger Russell Branyan leave via free agency. But offensive concerns aside, they should at least be a major pain at the top of the order with Chone Figgins batting second behind Ichiro.
They’ll both get on base – Ichiro by racking up hits, Figgins with a fine eye for the strike zone – and once there, they’ll both drive pitchers nuts with their speed. A fine example occurred during Thursday’s Cactus League game against the Giants.
Ichiro led off the game with a double off Tim Lincecum. Figgins walked. The speedsters pulled off a double steal, then scored on a single by Ryan Garko.
This prompted Giants manager Bruce Bochy to utter this phrase (from Kirby Arnold of The Herald):
“Those two guys at the top of the lineup are going to be like gnats.”
Bochy might want to trademark that one real quick, because that sound you hear is the Mariners’ promotional team scrambling to come up with a whole new line of “Gnats” products.
That’s gold, Jerry!