Figgins moved into utility role

Figgins moved into utility role

SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge wanted to jump-start Chone Figgins' offensive game, one that had never gotten off the ground in two years in Seattle. So prior to the season, he decided to make Figgins the Mariners' leadoff hitter.

A month into the season, consider that experiment over.

Wedge announced before Friday's game that he had informed the veteran he would now be serving in a utility role.

"I talked to Figgy today. I told him we're going to change his role, he's going to [play in] more of a utility role for us now," Wedge said. "I had a good conversation with Chone earlier today before I posted the lineup, and he was a total pro about it. He understood.

"I felt like this was the time we needed to do it. I wanted to give it as long as I felt like we could, but it just wasn't happening to the point where we felt like it should. He's been great with his attitude, he's working hard, had a decent spring and good first week. But it's just fallen off from there."

Figgins -- who hit just .188 in a frustrating, injury-riddled 2011 campaign -- was hitting .260 through April 18, but has since seen a dramatic decrease in his production. On the heels of swoon in which he has just five hits in his last 45 at-bats, Figgins' average has dropped to .189.

Second baseman Dustin Ackley, who has been hitting second, will now occupy the leadoff spot. Ackley has hit first three times this season, and is batting 4-for-13 (.308) in that role. Wedge said he does not know who will lead off when Ackley has a day off, but is not considering moving Ichiro Suzuki from the three spot back to the role he occupied for Seattle up until this season.