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Isotopes Notebook: Figgins happy to be back in the game

Veteran Chone Figgins is happy to be playing every day with the Isotopes.
Photo by Photo by Harry How

Chone Figgins was a somewhat surprising demotion by the Dodgers to the Isotopes back on April 21. It was surprising that they would first demote the versatile veteran, and equally surprising that they could send him down with all his service time.

Figgins, though, was not one to complain, not after he ended up sitting out the entire 2013 season after he was released by the Miami Marlins at the end of spring training. The Dodgers gave him an opportunity to restart his career this year, and even if he has to spend some time back at Triple-A, Figgins seems happy to just be playing again.

“They gave me an opportunity by making the team,” Figgins said. “They’ve seen my progression as I started hitting more over the course of spring training. Later in spring training my at-bats were getting better with obviously playing more, getting my timing (back). That was one of the things that helped me make the team.

“So I said you know what, if that’s what helped me make the team, I owe it to myself and the Dodgers. I can keep getting some work in.”

Figgins had nine plate appearances over nine games with the Dodgers, going 1-for-6 with a run scored, three walks and two strikeouts. Since joining the Isotopes he has hit .313 (5-for-16) with two doubles, a run scored, four walks and four strikeouts. Figgins has played two games at third base, one at second, one at shortstop and one in left field.

“I’d been swinging the bat better up there in fewer at-bats,” Figgins said. “Even in (five) games here, I’ve hit some balls really hard. That’s just letting you know it’s still there and I’m getting better, getting back to being myself.”

Figgins had a standout early career (.291/.363/.388) with the Angels, playing from 2002 to 2009, including making the All-Star Game in his final season. Then came a disappointing three-year stretch (.227/.302/.283) with the Mariners from 2010 to 2012 that almost ended his career. He then sat out all of 2013.

“It was hard,” Figgins said. “I had a really good spring training with the Marlins. I look at this year, so many position players are hurt. Like the Rangers, they couldn’t find infielders. Last year, nobody got hurt, so it was hard for me to find a job. Some teams asked me to go to Triple-A, but I thought at the time I didn’t want to go.”

Figgins said he does not plan to assert himself as a leader with the Isotopes, despite his veteran status and considerable Major League experience. Instead he will just do the same thing he has always done.

“You know, it’s more of you kind of lead by example,” Figgins said. “You showed them you got here by working hard. That’s something you hope they pick up, the work ethic. Me and (Miguel) Olivo have been going since 1998. Our work ethic hasn’t changed. We hope the young guys pick up and move forward. Working hard every day is going to make you better.”

Roster carousel spins again

Tuesday saw another round of player movement involving the Isotopes and Dodgers. Even with the big-league team rained out in Minnesota, that did not stop Los Angeles from calling up lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez.

Infielder Carlos Triunfel, who had just been recalled two days earlier, was sent back down. The Isotopes will have to make another roster move when he reports some time in the next 72 hours.

In the interim, third-string catcher John Cannon was activated off the disabled list and relief pitcher Justin Souza rejoined the roster after being assigned to rookie-level Ogden in a paper move just a day earlier.

With those two on board, reliever Josh Judy was shifted to the Ogden roster. Judy threw 2.1 innings of relief Monday, so he would not be available for a while anyway.

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