BALTIMORE — It was the ultimate compliment, from one former utility player to another. After Chone Figgins went four for five Friday night to break the Angels' franchise record for hits in a month, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora said, "If I'm a general manager, I want seven Figgys on my team."
Which raises the question: If there were seven Figgys on a team, which two positions would Figgins not play?
"I'd have to say catcher and first base," said Figgins, who has started at the three other infield positions and all three outfield spots but has been anchored at third this season. "I don't like those two positions too much."
Figgins caught briefly as a 12-year-old, after the catcher on his Little League All-Star team in Georgia was caught with a gun, and we don't mean a strong arm.
"He brought a gun to a game," Figgins said. "He got suspended."
Figgins chuckles at the memory.
"I guess that's not funny," he said. "We were playing in Alabama, and I don't know why, but he got the impression the other teams were [tough]. It wasn't a \o7real \f7gun, it was a pellet gun."
Figgins wasn't cut out for catching.
"I liked throwing guys out," he said, "but I wasn't big enough to be blocking balls, taking shots off my arms and chest."
His size didn't make him a good first base candidate, either, but Figgins was a decent pitcher in high school because "I liked throwing the ball hard," he said.
That strong arm has been an asset across the infield, and Figgins' bat has been golden this month. He singled and hit a run-scoring triple in four at-bats Saturday, closing June with 53 hits and a .461 average (53 for 115). On May 28, Figgins was batting .133 on the season. He begins July with a .325 average.
"I'm just staying within myself, hitting balls hard, not chasing a lot of pitches and not changing my approach," Figgins said. "That's what I'm most pleased about. I'm not changing a thing. Before, if things weren't going well, I'd change things."
What seems like an eternal question -- when will Garret Anderson become a full-time designated hitter? -- was raised again Saturday, with Anderson moving closer to a return from the disabled list.
The veteran, who has missed two months of the season because of a right hip flexor tendon tear, played left field for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night, going hitless in three at-bats, and is expected to be activated some time this week.
"Is he going to be an everyday DH? No," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Will he DH as needed? Yes.... He'll probably DH a little more than he was scheduled to before."
One of the few bright spots for the Angels on Saturday was the play of left fielder Nick Gorneault, who, in his big league debut, threw out Corey Patterson at the plate in the third inning and made two running catches in the corner. Patterson tried to score from second on Brandon Fahey's single.... Left fielder Reggie Willits missed his second straight game because of a bruised right knee and sore shoulder, injuries suffered when he crashed into the wall to make a catch in Anaheim on Wednesday. Willits' knee is sore and swollen, and he spent much of Saturday doing exercises to increase his mobility. He probably won't return until Tuesday in Texas.
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Most hits in a month by an Angel:
*--* 1. Chone Figgins June 2007 53 2. Darin Erstad April 2000 48 3. Mickey Rivers September 1973 45 3. Vic Davalillo August 1968 45 5. Darin Erstad June 2000 44 5. Garret Anderson July 1998 44 5. Lyman Bostock June 1978 44