Daily Dose: Phillies turn to Madson as closer

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Brad Lidge was flawless last year, converting 41-of-41 save chances
with a 1.95 ERA, but blew six saves in 19 tries this season while
posting a 7.27 ERA and the Phillies placed him on the disabled list
Tuesday. Shutting Lidge down for a while may be the only way to stop
manager Charlie Manuel from using him in the ninth inning, so giving
his knee and arm some rest was the right move for the Phillies.

Ryan Madson was fantastic as Lidge’s primary setup man last season
and hasn’t missed a beat this year, posting a 2.84 ERA and 98/32 K/BB
ratio in 111 innings since the beginning of 2008. He’ll take over
ninth-inning duties and is an obvious must-own in all leagues, with
J.C. Romero stepping back into his setup role after returning last week
from a 50-game suspension.

While the Phillies hope that some time on the sidelines can cure Lidge, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* There were few surprises at the top of the draft Tuesday night, as
the Nationals selected San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg at No.
1 and the Mariners took North Carolina hitting machine Dustin Ackley at
No. 2. San Diego went with prep outfielder Donavan Tate at No. 3, while
Missouri ace Kyle Gibson fell all the way from consensus top-10 talent to Minnesota at No. 22 due to injury concerns.

Strasburg is capable of making an impact in the big leagues this
season, but the Nationals will have a difficult time simply signing him
by the mid-August deadline and there’ll be nothing to play for in
Washington anyway. Regardless of whether you buy into Strasburg being
the greatest college pitcher of all time or just one of the best in a
long time, if signed he should be a big fantasy asset by mid-2010.

* David Ortiz’s homer Saturday was a Fenway Park special, but his
two-run blast Tuesday off A.J. Burnett was a true bomb to deep center
field. His OPS narrowly squeaking past .600 is hardly cause for
celebration, but Ortiz has at least shown some actual signs of life
this month by going 7-for-24 (.292) with two homers and a double. With
his eyes checked and his swing looking better, maybe it’s time.

* Jesse Litsch has spent the past couple months rehabbing his elbow
injury after Dr. James Andrews twice recommended rest instead of
surgery, but those plans disappeared Tuesday when the Blue Jays
announced that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery later this week. Litsch
had emerged as a solid mid-rotation starter, going 20-19 with a 3.83
ERA in 50 starts, but now faces 12 months of recovery.

AL Quick Hits: Jed Lowrie (wrist) is reportedly about one week
from beginning a rehab assignment … Brad Bergeson tossed eight
scoreless innings Tuesday for his third straight impressive outing …
Adam Lind homered Tuesday for the fourth time in five games and now
ranks fifth in the league with 45 RBIs … Ben Zobrist went deep Tuesday
for the 12th time in 148 at-bats and is sporting a 1.094 OPS after
coming into the year as a .222/.279/.370 hitter … Jose Arredondo was
10-2 with a 1.62 ERA last season, but is headed back to Triple-A after
posting a 5.55 ERA and pitching just three times since May 25 … Aaron
Poreda will work out of the bullpen initially after being called up
Tuesday, leaving Jose Contreras in the rotation with Bartolo Colon
(knee) going on the disabled list … Mark DeRosa hit a go-ahead grand
slam Tuesday and has 42 RBIs in 56 games despite a modest
.267/.332/.449 overall line … Cliff Lee’s streak of 10 straight Quality
Starts came to an end Tuesday with four runs in six innings.

NL Quick Hits: Jordan Zimmermann was scratched from his Tuesday
start with a sore elbow, but is slated to pitch Saturday … David Wright
homered Tuesday for the first time in over a month and is now batting
.348 … Johan Santana served up four homers Tuesday for just the second
time in his career, yet still managed his eighth victory … Jeremy
Hermida delivered a walk-off homer Tuesday versus Jason Motte … Mat
Gamel made his fourth straight start at third base Tuesday and smacked
his second career homer … J.J. Putz (elbow) underwent surgery Tuesday
and won’t be allowed to throw for at least six weeks … Carlos Gonzalez
went 2-for-4 with a steal while starting in left field Tuesday … As
expected, Chris Iannetta (hamstring) came off the disabled list Tuesday
and resumed starting for the Rockies … Pittsburgh will call up Charlie
Morton to start Wednesday against his former Braves teammates … Milton
Bradley (calf) rejoined the starting lineup Tuesday and is now
available for another injury.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.