Figgins moved to ninth in lineup

The season-long one-two punch at the top of the lineup has changed.

For the first time this season, second baseman Chone Figgins is not batting behind Ichiro Suzuki in the lineup, but basically in front of him as the ninth-place hitter.

That is just one of the lineup changes manager Don Wakamatsu made for tonight’s series opener against the Rangers. He moved designated hitter Milton Bradley into the No.2 spot and inserted first baseman Mike Carp, promoted from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in the day to replace Mike Sweeney (lower back inflammation) on the roster.

Figgins went 8-for-24 during the just-completed homestand and had a six-game hitting streak from May 28-June 2. He is batting .294 over his last 19 games, improving his batting average from .182 to .220.

With that in mind, Figgins seemed surprised with his part of lineup change.

Reminded that he has been hitting well lately, Figgins said, “Apparently not.”

Wakamatsu explained the move during his pre-game media session.

“It’s just a way to see if we can generate more offense that way,” he said. “What we are looking at is that we’ve went down the road with him in that (No. 2) position and we’re not getting enough run production as a team.  We’re just looking at any we can. It’s not a knock on Figgy. He’s a guy that went through some struggles and has worked extremely hard lately. It’s not just pointing a finger at him. It’s looking if we can more production out of the whole lineup.”

Figgins said this is the first time since the 2007 season that he batted ninth. Asked what the biggest difference between ninth and second, he said, “I’m going to be swinging, you can bet on that.”

Here is tonight’s lineup:

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Milton Bradley, DH
3. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
4. Jose Lopez, 3B
5. Mike Carp, 1B
6. Josh Wilson, SS
7. Michael Saunders, LF
8. Rob Johnson, C
9. Chone Figgins, 2B
LHP Cliff Lee

— Jim Street

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