Notes: Figgins shows heart, hustle
Angels leadoff man to be presented with award Tuesday
CHICAGO -- Inquiring minds want to know: Chone Figgins always wears a butterfly bandage on his left forearm. Why?"That's for my family, for my mom, dad and brother in Florida," Figgins, the Angels' leadoff catalyst, said. "I've been doing it since 2003 to let them know how much I appreciate all their support and what they did to get me where I am now." Eva, his mother, lives in Tampa. Charles, his father, calls Orlando home. Brother Demetrius, an Angels scout, is Miami-based. "We've got Florida covered," Figgins said, grinning. "We went through all of this together, and I'm representing them. I always said if I made it, I would do something to let them know I'm thinking of them. I didn't want to do anything that was overexaggerated. This is pretty simple." Figgins, recovering from a bruised bone in his left wrist, sat out Sunday's series finale against the White Sox against southpaw Mark Buehrle. On Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, before he takes his hacks against the Devil Rays, Figgins will be presented with the Angels' 2007 Heart & Hustle Award by former Angels great Bobby Grich. The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association created this award in 2005, voted on by former Major League players and presented annually to a current player who demonstrates a passion for the game and best embodies its values, spirit and traditions. The MLBPAA formed 30 local committees, composed of former players with ties to each team, to represent each club and nominate one player as that team's individual winner. As the season draws to a close, these 30 winners will be voted on by all former Major League players to select the winner. Craig Biggio was honored last season. David Eckstein -- Figgins' former Angels teammate -- claimed the first award in 2005. The award will be presented on Friday, Nov. 2, 2007. at the Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City, the primary fundraiser for a series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, held internationally each year. These events will reach more than 5,000 children in 2007. A .408 hitter since May 31, Figgins is batting .344. Because he was out of action for six weeks with two unrelated hand injuries, he's just shy of enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. He'd rank third in the American League, behind Magglio Ordonez and Ichiro Suzuki. Figgins leads all leadoff hitters in the Majors with his .448 on-base percentage in the No. 1 spot, and he's third in the AL in steals with 39. Willits in groove: Manager Mike Scioscia assembled an exclusively right-handed batting order against Buehrle, giving Garret Anderson, Jeff Mathis and Casey Kotchman the day off along with Figgins. "Garret's been out there every day in left field," Scioscia said. "It's a good time for him [for a break]. He'll come back fresher." Reggie Willits assumed Figgins' leadoff spot. Willits drove in the decisive run on Saturday night and was 7-for-16 (.438) on the current trip, showing signs of returning to his first-half form. The versatile outfielder took a .312 average to the All-Star break but has hit .265 in the second half. "He's feeling much more confident in the batter's box," Scioscia said. "Reggie is good support up top with Figgy not going against left-handed pitching." Figgins has been taking swings from the right side and hopes to feel strong enough with his left (bottom) hand to start attacking lefties soon. Willits is sixth in the AL in on-base percentage for leadoff hitters at .363. Despite his .375 average since rejoining the club three weeks ago, Kendry Morales was not in the lineup. The switch-hitter is batting .227 with a .318 slugging percentage against southpaws, compared to .342 and .557, respectively, against righties. Cleanup man Robb Quinlan came in with a .389 career average against Buehrle with three homers in 18 at-bats. On Sept. 16 in Angels history: In a 7-6 win at Minnesota in 2000, Mo Vaughn smacked his 35th homer and Anderson and Bengie Molina had three hits apiece, Molina driving in three runs. Up next: Kelvim Escobar (17-7, 3.25) faces Devil Rays right-hander Edwin Jackson (4-14, 5.94) in Monday night's opener of a three-game set at Angel Stadium at 7:05 p.m. PT.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.