Closing Time: Fight! Chone Figgins in dugout fracas at Safeco

Andy Behrens
July 24, 2010

The usual Friday workplace rules apply tonight. Business casual attire is acceptable. (Dress slacks. No jeans, no flip-flops). Also, we're celebrating Reuben's tenth anniversary with the firm. Please join us for cake in the third floor conference room. But let's make sure to keep the call center staffed. Carry on…

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Chone Figgins(notes) isn't exactly having a productive season for Seattle, so it can be argued that when he was lifted early on Friday night, manager Don Wakamatsu was doing the fantasy community a favor. But the circumstances surrounding Figgins' removal were fairly interesting.

In the truest spirit of the 2010 Mariners, Figgins made no apparent effort to pursue an off-target throw from Michael Saunders(notes) in the fifth inning. This, understandably, did not sit well with Wakamatsu. He and Figgins then had a "physical confrontation" (announcer's words) in the home dugout.

You can watch the video here at MLB.com.

Geoff Baker provided a tidy description of the incident in his game thread at the Seattle Times:

8:57 p.m.: So, there appears to have been a fight/shoving match of some kind with Chone Figgins in the middle of it. Jose Lopez(notes) was in there too with what appeared to be Russell Branyan(notes), Jack Wilson(notes) and … well, let's just say half the dugout was in there trying to break it up.

Don't want to speculate, but we know Figgins didn't look good on that errant throw by Michael Saunders and we know Figgins is no longer in the game. Looks like Don Wakamatsu might have pulled him from the game, setting off a negative reaction.

The AP's game recap informs us that "Lopez got his game jersey pulled off his back in the brief but intense scrum." Interesting to see that Lopez played a small part in the skirmish, because he's been an unrepentant loafer himself. Let's assume he was supporting his teammate's right to perform with indifference.

There's clearly going to be fallout from this episode. Or at least on a normal team, there would be fallout. I support any move that takes the Figgins sit/start decision out of my hands. (Need the steals, don't need the .229).

We should probably note that Josh Beckett(notes) pitched 5.2 solid innings in his return from the DL. He struck out five and allowed just one run, but he couldn't quite hang around to earn the win. He was pulled after 98 pitches following a walk to Saunders in the sixth. The Red Sox took the lead in the top of the seventh on a Bill Hall(notes) home run. Still, an encouraging line by Beckett, even though he was facing baseball's least productive lineup.

There were dueling blown saves in Florida, as Jose Veras(notes) surrendered a ninth inning lead to the Braves, yielding two hits, two walks, one HBP and two runs. (He got the call in the ninth because Leo Nunez(notes) was unavailable after pitching on back-to-back days). Billy Wagner(notes) then allowed two runs in the bottom half, blowing his second straight save opportunity. Brian McCann(notes) gets a share of the loss (despite a 4-RBI night at the plate) for this passed ball. Donnie Murphy(notes) delivered a walk-off single to center for the Fish.

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When Randy Wells(notes) faces the Cardinals, you never know what you're going to get. Back on May 28, he gave up six straight hits to St. Louis to begin the game, failing to record an out before he was pulled. But Wells was fantastic on Friday afternoon at Wrigley, tossing seven shutout innings and recording seven Ks. It was approximately 8,000 degrees in Chicago, so those seven innings were heroic.

Over Wells' last four starts — all against quality opponents (CIN, LAD, PHI, STL) — he's thrown 28.2 innings, allowing just four runs and seven walks while striking out 24. Give him a look. He'll likely get the Astros next, then the Brewers.

Alfredo Simon(notes) did not lose his closing job on Friday night, gamers. Oh, no. He shut the door on the Twins, protecting a one-run lead. Sure, he faced the bottom of the lineup, but all saves count. Simon is now 14-for-16 in save situations and he's allowed just five hits over his last 12.2 innings. He's earned some trust. Go away, Mike Gonzalez. Shoo.

Luke Scott(notes) went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in Baltimore's win. He's on a classic binge right now, lifting his average to .288 and making himself a viable trade chip for the O's. But if we can safely use every other season of Scott's career as a guide, then there's almost certainly a crash coming.

Brutal news for David DeJesus(notes) and his owners: He'll require surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, presumably ending his season. DeJesus appeared to be ticketed for a contending team at the trade deadline after spending eight seasons in Kansas City. So yeah, tough break. Alex Gordon(notes) was recalled from Triple-A Omaha where he'd delivered a 1.019 OPS and 14 homers in 68 games. He started in right for KC, with Rick Ankiel(notes) in center. And people paid to watch.

Potentially brutal news for Corey Hart(notes) and his owners: While pursuing a foul ball in right field, Hart slid into the wall and injured his right wrist. He remained in the game initially, but was later lifted for a pinch-hitter. X-rays were negative; he's officially day-to-day, which tells us nothing.

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Over on the right, you'll see the cover art for our upcoming Best-Of Closing Time 2010 special issue. Aubrey Huff(notes) and Kelly Johnson(notes) were early season regulars here, but now they're both at 78 percent ownership. There's not much left to say. We should nonetheless acknowledge their performances on Friday, as Johnson hit for the cycle — video evidence here — while Huff hit a pair of bombs. You probably can't add 'em, but you can respect the achievements.

Mark Buehrle(notes) went the distance in a win over the A's on Friday, giving up just four hits and one run. He struck out only two batters, per his usual. The Sox were not required to turn to any member of the committee of temporary closers. Here's manager Ozzie Guillen discussing the plan for Bobby Jenks(notes):

“We’re a better ballclub when Bobby is the guy to close it,” Guillen said. “We’re going to put him in spots, maybe one day or two days, to see if we can regroup him.”

Do people get regrouped? Or can you only regroup an actual group? This needs a ruling, quickly.

No need to react to the Tony Sipp(notes) save on Friday night. It was a rain-shortened, seven-inning game against the Rays. Incredibly, Tampa Bay has not won in Cleveland since 2005.

For the second consecutive night, Pedro Alvarez(notes) did not hit two homers.

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Photos via Getty Images (Figgins) and US Presswire (Wells)