BY John Hickey 02:56PM 12/12/2010

Ryan trade will fuel a talk with Figgins

Chone Figgins could move from second to third with the acquisition from St. Louis of slic- fielding shortstop/second baseman Brendan Ryan.

Chone Figgins - Seattle Mariners - 2010 - 2

Chone Figgins could be moving from second to third for Mariners in 2011

To this point, Mariners’ general manager Jack Zduriencik has played with the 2011 Seattle roster without explaining his plan to his players.
That changes this week. Zduriencik said that in the wake of Sunday’s trade with St. Louis for shortstop Brendan Ryan, he’s going to have a chat with Chone Figgins in the near future.

With the trade of third baseman Jose Lopez, the Arizona Fall League MVP trophy on the mantle of up-and-coming minor league second baseman Dustin Ackley, and with the addition of Ryan, who can play second or short, Figgins needs to know what to expect coming into spring training.

Brendan Ryan

Figgins was the Mariners’ second baseman for all of 2010, but third base is open, and third base is the position where Figgins had most of his success while coming of age with the Angels.

“I have not talked to Chone yet,’’ Zduriencik said after the Ryan deal was announced. “As we move forward, we would like to have discussion with him in the next week or 10 days and give him the lay of the land.”

This coming week makes more sense, given that the run-up to Christmas heightens next week. And while Figgins said all season long that he was happy enough to play second with Lopez at third, with third base now open, it would come as no surprise if he would welcome a move to third.
That would give the Mariners a much better defense infield in 2011 than in 2010 with Ryan at second, Jack Wilson at shortstop and Figgins at third.

On the other hand, Ryan, who hit .292 in St. Louis in 2009 before a wrist injury limited him to a .223 average in 2010, could fit in at short, Ackley could make the move to the big leagues at second, Figgins could go to third and Wilson could go on the trade block. The Mariners are pinched for the amount of money they are willing to spend, and getting rid of the $5 million obligation the club has to Wilson would increase Zduriencik’s flexibility.

And Ryan led all Major League shortstops defensively with 3.43 assists per game last year, so that makes a strong case for Ryan getting the job over Wilson.

“What I said to Brendan and what I said to Eric (manager Eric Wedge) is that we have great opportunity here,’’ Zduriencik said.  “We’ll let the pieces fall as they may in spring training.’’

In exchange for Ryan, the Mariners gave up minor league right-handed pitcher Maikel Cleto, who was 4-9 with a 6.16 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) for Class-A High Desert in the California League.

Ryan was hampered much of 2010 after having surgery on his wrist.

“I don’t want to make excuses,’’ Ryan said,  “but having surgery two weeks before spring training definitely didn’t help.’’

Ryan was back for the end of spring training about six weeks after doctors shaved the capsule in his wrist down.

“It feels wonderful now,’’ Ryan said. “But when I came back I was a little bit lost. I lost a little bit of confidence. Now I’m trying to find that 2009 swing.’’

Twitter: @JHickey3

2010 Mariners Additions & Subtractions