Manny Ramirez enters halfway house

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Now if you turn your attention to the center ring, I give you Manny Ramirez, standing on his head while riding on the back of a flaming horse! Or something!

Ramirez, easing back into playing shape after a 50-game drug
suspension, suited up for the Albuquerque Isotopes as they beat
Nashville 1-0. Ramirez wore No. 99 for the Dodgers’ top farm club. He
played four innings and was hitless in two at-bats. The capacity crowd
of 15,321 was the largest in Albuquerque’s baseball history.

Fans lined the walkway from the clubhouse as Ramirez entered the
field. They gathered near the dugout, clustering for autographs, and
they seemed ready to forgive Ramirez for violating baseball’s drug
rules.

“People love me everywhere I go,” Ramirez said before the game. “I’m
excited to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people here. I feel good. I’m
happy that I’m here.”

This will no doubt make the haters and moralists mad, many of whom
think that Manny shouldn’t be allowed to live, let alone rehab in the
minors before his suspension is over. On that note, I think I have come
across the stupidest argument against Manny being allowed to rehab yet:

If someone goes to jail for 50 days, they don’t get released 10 days
early so they can get used to the outside again. They have to adjust
after their full sentence is completed. I know baseball and jail aren’t
exactly similar, but the metaphor fits.

Except it doesn’t. Typically, a prisoner is allowed to leave prison
several months before his sentence is over and go to a halfway house,
the express purpose of which is for a guy to get used to the outside
again. With all due respect to the minor leagues, they are like a
halfway house in that, from Manny’s perspective anyway, they are not
quite freedom while not quite being restriction anymore either.

Sorry to get in the way of your Manny hate folks, but facts is facts.

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.