Chone Figgins

Is the Chone Figgins era over yet?

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Chone Figgins didn’t play in the Mariners’ loss Tuesday, but in the last three games he’s started, he’s gone 0-for-15 with six strikeouts from the leadoff spot. All three games turned into one-run defeats for Seattle.

Figgins is currently batting .189 in 95 at-bats for the season. He’s struck out 28 times already. Of course, he hit .188 in 288 at-bats last year.

Despite his struggles, Figgins was simply handed a starting job and the leadoff spot by the Mariners this season. Of course, his contract had a lot to do with that — the Mariners were hoping to find someone willing to take on a portion of the $17 million he was due through 2013. Figgins, though, hasn’t helped his cause there, and it’s doubtful anyone would take him unless he came at close to the minimum salary. Since that’s the case, the Mariners need to forget about money for a while and start playing their younger, better players.

With Mike Carp back from the DL this week, Figgins simply doesn’t belong in the Seattle lineup any longer. Kyle Seager looks like the long-term choice at third. Carp is a poor defensive left fielder, but he needs to play. Michael Saunders has done a nice job in center so far, though he’s cooling off now.

The Mariners don’t need to release Figgins, but they should be thinking of him as a utilityman, not a starter. And certainly not as a fixture in the leadoff spot. The Mariners are in better shape now than they have been in a couple of years, but it’s hard to take them seriously when they’re still playing guys for financial reasons.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.