10/25/09 7:17 PM EST
Figgins staying with what works for him
Despite postseason struggles, leadoff man says he's fine
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Saddled with a postseason batting average of .065 and an on-base percentage of .194 coming into Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday, the Angels' leadoff man wasn't about to consider changing a thing.
"I feel fine, and I'm going to continue to stay with my approach," Figgins said before taking his best shots at southpaw Andy Pettitte at Yankee Stadium. "The numbers aren't there, but I'm going to keep my approach.
"I'm not getting a lot of pitches over the plate to hit. They're making some really good pitches to me. I've had some good pitches to hit and put some good swings on them, but the results haven't been there. I hit a line drive off [Mariano] Rivera [in Game 5] and didn't get anything out of it -- an RBI or anything."
That was in the eighth inning, with the Angels clinging to a 7-6 lead that would hold up. With runners on the corners, Figgins lined out to Nick Swisher in right and pinch-runner Reggie Willits held at third.
"When you're a line-drive hitter like I am," Figgins said, "you have these stretches where things don't fall for you. I hit some balls hard against Boston [going 0-for-12 in the AL Division Series] and [Jacoby] Ellsbury robbed me three times."
Figgins is 2-for-19 with three walks against the Yankees in the ALCS. One of those hits came against Pettitte in Game 3 at Angel Stadium, but Figgins was erased on a double-play grounder.
Manager Mike Scioscia pointed to that at-bat against Pettitte and his belief in Figgins' talents in explaining why he chose to keep him at the top of the order rather than elevating Erick Aybar, who's batting .321 in the postseason and .294 against the Yankees.
"Sure, we considered a lot of things in our lineup," Scioscia said. "I think you would be asking a lot of Erick to flip him mid-series. Hopefully, Figgy is going to give us the at-bats we need to impact that grouping in the middle of our lineup.
"I think there's a small part of any player that maybe when they don't achieve, they start to press. And I think once a player gets over that, he gets back into his game and is usually very, very productive. We hope that's the case with Chone."
Figgins does tend to collect hits in bunches. He led the Angels in multihit games with 57, which left him tied for fifth in the AL.
Figgins also was tied for seventh in the league with his .333 average with runners in scoring position.
Only the Yankees' leadoff man, Derek Jeter, reached base more often this season than Figgins, whose 114 runs scored were one shy of AL leader Dustin Pedroia.
Figgins has scored only twice in the eight postseason games, one of those runs coming during the dramatic ninth-inning rally in Boston that completed the ALDS sweep of the Red Sox.
"Their whole objective is to keep me off base," Figgins said, referring to the Yankees, "and they've done a good job of it. When I do get on, good things happen.
"I'm going to continue to battle at the plate. Either I'm going to get something done or I'm not. But I'm not going to change my approach. I learned that I have to stick with my approach several years ago, when I was hurt and had a bad start and came back and hit .330.
"There's nothing wrong with my approach. I just need a ball or two to find a hole. This is no time to change."
This is something his teammate, Bobby Abreu, stresses as well. After tearing it up against Boston in the ALDS, Abreu also has struggled against the Yankees, batting .143 in 21 at-bats.
"The last thing you want to do is start trying to do too much," Abreu said. "You can't change anything. Chone knows that. He'll be OK. He knows what he's doing."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.