JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Chone Figgins reaches into his locker and pulls out a glove from the stack on the shelf, eager to grab the chance to revive his career with the Miami Marlins.
He smacks the leather of the second baseman’s mitt. He also has gloves to play third base, shortstop and the outfield.
“They’re all different sizes,” Figgins says. “It makes a huge difference.”
His favorite position?
“On the field,” he says. “Anywhere.”
At 35, Figgins just wants to get in the game. The 12th-year veteran is a .277 career hitter with 337 stolen bases, but he has batted under .200 each of the past two seasons, and the Marlins might represent his last opportunity to stay in the big leagues.
He’s off to a slow start in spring training, going 0 for 9 in his first four games. But he’s confident he can still hit, and figures his versatility afield coming off the bench makes him especially valuable to a National League team.
Until this year, he spent his entire career in the American League.
“In the AL you’re limited,” he says. “They don’t pinch-hit much, and if they do, it’s usually somebody who might hit a homer.”
Figgins never had much power, but in his prime the switch-hitter contributed in many other ways during eight seasons with the Angels.
His production began to decline after he signed a $36 million, four-year contract with the Mariners before the 2010 season. He batted .188 in 81 games in 2011, then hit .181 in 66 games last year.
Playing part time made it tough to shake the slump, he says.
“I’d go three weeks to a month not playing, going from getting 700 at-bats every year,” he says. “It’s tough. You sign a four-year deal, and the second year of the deal you’re sitting on the bench. That’s hard to swallow. But I stayed positive as much as I could. This is where it has taken me.”
The Marlins are rebuilding after their latest payroll purge, and their spring training clubhouse is a mix of prospects and thirtysomething veterans like Figgins trying to extend their careers.
Left fielder Juan Pierre, 35, and third baseman Placido Polanco, 37, are expected to start, but Figgins will need a good spring just to make the team. He signed a minor-league contract with the Marlins after the Mariners let him go in November.
“Obviously he had a couple of rough years,” new Miami manager Mike Redmond says. “We’re hoping he comes in here, gets around some younger players and rejuvenates himself.
“When he was in Anaheim, he was one of the best players I’ve ever seen. He could run, he could hit, he could play defense. He could play all over the place.”
Figgins has played 630 games at third base, 274 at second, 253 in center field, 76 in left field, 28 in right field and 27 at shortstop.
“I would go from short to third to outfield to second in one game,” he says. “It’s fun. You learn a lot moving to different positions. I got to watch some of the best hitters and a lot of different swings from different angles. And you get to talk to a lot of players jumping from position to position.”
Redmond wants to give Figgins plenty of playing time in the hopes the veteran can shake his rust.
“Hopefully he gets it back,” Redmond said. “That could be a huge lift to this team. He’s got nothing to lose.”
Neither do the Marlins. The Mariners still owe Figgins $8 million this year, but for budget-conscious Miami he’s a potential bargain.