Dustin Ackley is batting second in the Mariners’ lineup today, which might end up being his spot for the next decade or so and points to Chone Figgins’ role continuing to shrink.
Figgins has been the No. 2 hitter for most of the past season-and-a-half and still has another two years and $17 million left on his contract, but he’s been so abysmal that Adam Kennedy is taking his playing time at third base since Ackley was called up to play second base.
Asked specifically about Figgins’ role, manager Eric Wedge told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times:
He’s just not going to get as much playing time. He knows that. He wants to get going more than anybody. I want him to get going more than anybody, but he’s in between right now. That’s not where you want to be. We’ll pick our spots to get him in there, and hopefully he can start heading in the right direction.
Regardless of what you thought of the Mariners’ decision to give Figgins a four-year, $36 million deal as a free agent his complete collapse since signing the deal has been shocking. Figgins hit .291 with a .363 on-base percentage in 936 games for the Angels, but he’s hit just .239 with a .312 on-base percentage in 225 games for the Mariners. And even his base-stealing has fallen apart, as he’s just 8-for-14 on steals this season after going 42-for-57 in 2010.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.