Flaig to the Outfield?

Jeff Flaig (Photo/AquaSox)

EVERETT, Wash. - Last Wednesday, August 24, was moving day for AquaSox first baseman Jeff Flaig. No, the Mariners' 2003 second round pick wasn't departing Everett; he was simply tackling a new position in the hopes of ensuring a future within the Mariners organization.

Over the last few days of the season, Flaig will pursue a gradual transition to left field. The decision to move Flaig was made last week after the Sox coaching staff suggested it to upper management.

"As a coaching staff, we brought that up to the organization because we think he'll have more value if he's got another position where he can play besides first base," said Everett manager Pedro Grifol. "He's not your prototypical first baseman - he's not a big home run hitting guy, but he does have a lot of potential with the bat. We figure, if he can go play left field, then one day he can eventually help us in the big leagues."

The move came as something of a surprise to Flaig, who has spent the majority of his career in the infield.

"It's kind of shocking, I guess, but whatever works," said Flaig, putting his baseball future ahead of any pride he might have had as a long-time infielder.

The position change isn't the first the La Miranda, Calif., native has undergone in his short professional career. Flaig was drafted out of high school as a third baseman, but was forced to move across the diamond following a rotator cuff injury prior to the 2004 season in the Arizona Rookie League. It's that same injury that will keep Flaig from manning left full time in the next few days.

"He's only going to play left field once out of every two or three days," said Grifol. "He's coming back from some arm problems and we don't want to rush that."

The move will obviously require a period of adjustment for Flaig, though Grifol says that his former first baseman has "a great attitude" about the switch. Flaig himself seemed optimistic about his ability to morph into an outfielder.

"I'm used to ground balls and now I'll have to catch fly balls, but I think I'll be pretty good at it," he said, adding, "I played [in left] the other day and it wasn't too bad."

Asked if he thought if the move would help him work through the system quicker, Flaig responded, "I think so - I hope so. I think that's what they're trying to do."

That's precisely the kind of attitude one likes to see out of a promising young prospect.

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