Chone Figgins will serve as Mariners third baseman, leadoff hitter

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UPDATE: Eric Wedge confirmed the news today, stating that the Mariners would move Ichiro into the third spot in the order and try Figgins at leadoff. Check back later for the Mariners edition of “Running down the rosters” for a guess at the full lineup.

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And why shouldn’t he be? He hit .188 last year.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times believes the Mariners will soon name Figgins their leadoff man, with Ichiro Suzuki moving down in the order. The Ichiro move is something that’s been hinted at all winter, and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal recently indicated that Figgins was the likely replacement.

Figgins’ position in the field won’t be quite as set, but he’s not so concerned about that, as long as he’s penciled in regularly.

“Like I told them ‘I’m going to be ready for wherever you play me in the lineup, as long as you play me every day’,” he told the Times. “That’s something I care about.”

It’s hard to believe Figgins has the gumption to make such a statement, as terrible as he’s been in his two years with the Mariners. He went from hitting .298/.395/.394 in his final year with the Angels to .259/.340/.306 in 2010 and .188/.241/.243 last year. By any measure, he rated as one of baseball’s worst players last season, and he collected $9 million in the process. The Mariners owe him another $17 million over the next two years.

Obviously, the Mariners’ decision to restore him to everyday status is financially motivated. In a fair world, Kyle Seager would have every chance to beat him out for the third-base job this spring. At 34, Figgins isn’t necessarily too old to bounce back. But at this point, he should have to earn his spot, not have it handed to him along with his millions.

That doesn’t seem to be the plan at the moment, though. Figgins will see some time in the outfield this spring, but third base is where he’s expected to play most of the time. Seager may well be Triple-A bound unless he forces the Mariners to carry him as a part-timer with a big month of March.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.