Figgins’ steals decline

Times Staff Writer

Chone Figgins has been getting on base at a .376 clip, the fifth-best percentage among major league leadoff men, but the Angels speedster has not been stealing bases at his usual pace.

Figgins, who led the American League with 62 stolen bases in 2005 and had 52 in 2006, began Tuesday with 24 stolen bases in 78 games, an average of .31 a game. The third baseman sat out five weeks in May and June because of leg injuries.

Figgins averaged .39 stolen bases a game in 2005, .34 in 2006 and .36 in 2007.

“It’s opportunities,” Figgins said. “Sometimes guys don’t let me run. They’re slide-stepping and throwing a lot more fastballs. But the guys behind me are getting better pitches to hit, which helps.”


Figgins might have turned a corner Saturday against the New York Yankees when he stole second base in the seventh inning of a 3-3 game and stole second again during the Angels’ eight-run eighth inning.

“That’s what I really thrive on, stealing bases when they know you’re going,” Figgins said. “That puts the threat in the pitcher’s head.”

Figgins, who said he was completely recovered from a right knee infection that slowed him in late June and early July, said he has been getting a little antsy at first base.

“I want to run, and you can see me jumping so bad because I want to go,” Figgins said. “But you don’t steal just to be running.”


Evil eye

Whatever caused the right eye irritation that forced Jeff Mathis to be scratched from Sunday’s game against the Yankees was gone by Monday morning, and the catcher was back in the lineup Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners.

“I don’t even know what it was,” Mathis said. “It was real red, dry, burning, irritated. . . . I felt like something was in my eye. I couldn’t keep it open.”

Mathis then cast a suspicious eye toward the locker next door, where catcher Mike Napoli, who shares an Irvine condominium with Mathis and started in Mathis’ place Sunday, was sitting.


“Maybe Nap came in and gouged my eye while I was sleeping,” Mathis said.

“Another day of playing,” Napoli said with a grin.

Doctors determined Mathis had scratched his cornea, “but it cleared up by Monday,” Mathis said. “It’s fine.”

Short hops


Reserve outfielder Reggie Willits, on the disabled list because of a mild concussion, was expected to resume baseball activities later this week. . . . The Angels, who are on pace for 103 wins, are one of two current major league teams who have never had a 100-win or 100-loss season. The other is Colorado.