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Numbers are not Figgins' primary goal

Numbers are not Figgins' primary goal

SEATTLE -- The numbers jump off the page in bold type.

Runs scored: 100. On-base percentage: .404. Batting average: .310. Walks: 82. Stolen bases: 39.

Chone Figgins feels good about each of those performance-related statistics, but another number probably means a little more than all the others: 130.

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That's how many games he has played, missing only two when, as he put it through a big smile, "I was benched."

The season is heading down the stretch, with the Rangers breathing down their necks in the American League West race, but the Angels can take solace in having a lead thoroughbred atop the order, at the top of his game.

"I feel great," Figgins said, heading into a four-game series with the Royals. "I'm strong -- healthy. I came into this season wanting to show that I'm durable, and I think I've done that."

The Angels' leadoff catalyst has come out of games only when manager Mike Scioscia has insisted. Figgins has given the Angels energy, batter's box offense, superb baserunning, Rawlings Gold Glove-caliber defense and leadership. The whole package.

Mainly, he has been a constant: Mr. Dependable.

"I had two freak injuries -- with my hand and my hamstring -- the last two years, and people started saying I was injury prone," Figgins said. "I've always been durable, my whole life. I'm just back to what I've always been this season.

"When I said in Spring Training that my goal was to play all 162, I meant it. I knew that if I did that, everything else would fall in place. I've never doubted myself. I know what my abilities are."

Two fractured fingertips on his throwing hand from a ground ball in Spring Training cost Figgins the opening month of the 2007 season. He finished hitting a career-best .330 in 115 games.

Last year, he strained his right hamstring in early May trying to slide around an umpire at home plate and went to the disabled list for 16 games. Aggravating the hamstring after returning, he went back to the DL for three weeks, playing a total of 116 games.

"I'd never had an injury before, never been on the DL," he said. "Those were freak accidents. There wasn't anything I could've done to avoid them."

Figgins' high for games played is 158 in 2005, when he scored a career-high 113 runs and batted .290.

Getting to 159 or 160 games this season, he figures to establish a new career high in runs.

"I think I'm more patient than I've ever been, mainly," he said. "That's why I'm drawing more walks and have a higher on-base percentage."

Figgins' career on-base percentage coming into the season was .356, underscoring dramatic improvement in plate discipline.

One personal goal, he said, is to lead the league in runs scored. If he does that, it means the offense is humming and his team is winning.

"Scoring 100 is not that easy, considering our ballpark and our division," Figgins said. "It's not like the National League Central, where you've got those hitters' parks and balls fly out.

"The only park in our division like that is Texas. Scoring runs in the other parks [Seattle, Oakland and Angel Stadium] is not easy. That's why it's kind of amazing what our offense has done this year.

"You look at a guy like Kendry Morales, hitting 30 home runs while playing half his games in our park ... that's remarkable. People don't realize how hard it is to drive the ball out of our park for a left-handed hitter. I watched Garret [Anderson] lose home runs every year here."

The Angels were shut down in the final two games of the Seattle series, held to one run while watching the Rangers shave 2 1/2 games off their lead in a 24-hour period.

Felix Hernandez, with an inning of relief from David Aardsma, shut out the Angels in the series finale on Wednesday, but Figgins did his part to try to stir things up with two singles and a walk. Unfortunately, those two hits represented half of his team's total.

"We've got a lot of guys who are having good years," Figgins said. "We've maintained a pretty dynamic offense for a long time. You're bound to go through periods, as a player and a team, where you're hitting balls hard, but they're not finding holes.

"What you have to do is stay with your approach. When you try to change things, that's when you start having problems. We'll be fine."

Figgins is eligible for free agency after the season, and he's keeping that on the back burner. He likes it right where he is, in the Angels' fast-track attack, and has no desire to leave. But he has made it clear that if superior offers surface elsewhere, he'll move on.

Even though he has settled in at third base and excelled the past three years there, he said he wouldn't let his desire to stay at the hot corner dictate where he plays next season.

"I just want to play," Figgins said. "I've enjoyed playing the outfield, second, third ... and you know I was a shortstop coming up. It's great having one position now, knowing I'll be there every day. But really, I just want to play."

He means each and every day, until his manager sits him -- whether he likes it or not.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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