Daily Dose: McGowan's career in danger?

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Dustin McGowan emerged as one of the AL’s most promising young pitchers
by winning 14 games with a 3.62 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 32 starts
from mid-2007 to mid-2008, but began struggling following a 125-pitch
outing last June and had season-ending shoulder surgery a month later.
His recovery has gone poorly and general manager J.P. Ricciardi hinted
Wednesday that his career is in jeopardy.

“He’s not where he should be from a rehab standpoint,” Ricciardi
noted. “I don’t know if he’s never going to throw again, but right now
he’s struggling.” Toronto’s pitching staff has been wrecked by all
kinds of injuries during the past two years, but losing a young
right-hander with a mid-90s fastball who missed plenty of bats and
induced quite a few ground balls is perhaps the biggest long-term blow.

While the Blue Jays somehow become the fifth MLB team to win 40 games, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Injuring his elbow in the World Baseball Classic didn’t stop Matt
Lindstrom from averaging the usual 96 miles per hour with his fastball,
but he hasn’t looked right since. Last season Lindstrom allowed 21 runs
and 26 walks in 57.1 innings. This year he gave up 22 runs and 20 walks
in just 29 innings before the Marlins stuck him on the disabled list
Wednesday with a sprained right elbow.

Florida worked Lindstrom awfully hard despite the WBC scare, using
him in both games of a doubleheader last month and on three straight
days twice in the past four weeks. Now he’s been shut down for at least
a month and most likely will be sidelined well into August. Leo Nunez
is the obvious choice to replace him in the ninth inning, assuming that
his current ankle injury doesn’t linger for very long.

* Edinson Volquez had been making steady progress in his recovery
from elbow tendinitis, but has been shut down after an MRI exam showed
inflammation. He’ll be examined again next week, but now seems highly
unlikely to return before the All-Star break. With his recovery
timetable being delayed the Reds now have an excuse to give Homer
Bailey an extended rotation tryout beginning Saturday.

Bailey was a mess in past stints with the Reds and his prospect
stock is nowhere near where it once was, but he’s still just 23 years
old and is 5-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 40/10 K/BB ratio in six starts since
his latest demotion to Triple-A. This is his third go-around at
Triple-A and he’s made 45 starts there, so it may be time to let him
sink or swim while praying that he throws strikes for once.

* There’s no official diagnosis yet on Brandon Webb’s injured shoulder
following two MRI exams and he’s expected to seek a second opinion
later this week, but the Arizona Republic
reported Wednesday that “surgery appears to be a strong possibility”
while specifically speculating that he may have a torn labrum. If
that’s indeed the case, Webb is done for 2009 and perhaps most of 2010.

Note: As the first half comes to a close, we’re now offering a “Midseason Report” that includes all the outstanding content from our “Season Pass” product plus a ton of new articles, rankings, and projections tailored for the second half.

AL Quick Hits: Evan Longoria left Wednesday’s game with a
strained hamstring and missed time earlier this month with the same
injury … CC Sabathia (biceps) declared himself “good to go” following a
bullpen session Wednesday … Neftali Feliz has moved to the bullpen at
Triple-A in preparation for a second-half role
in Texas … Oakland placed Josh Outman (elbow) on the shelf Thursday,
calling up Gio Gonzalez to replace him in the rotation … Denard Span
(ear) is set to come off the disabled list Thursday … Jason Varitek has
been slumping this month, so manager Terry Francona explained Wednesday
that he’s been dealing with neck stiffness … Koji Uehera said Wednesday
that he’s in danger of missing his next start because of elbow soreness
… David Ortiz homered again Wednesday and is 18-for-55 (.327) with six
homers this month … Orlando Hernandez began his comeback by tossing a
scoreless inning out of the bullpen Tuesday at Triple-A.

NL Quick Hits: Oliver Perez (knee) estimated Wednesday that he
needs a couple more minor-league rehab starts before rejoining the Mets
… Manny Parra tossed seven innings of one-run ball in his second
Triple-A outing Tuesday, striking out Manny Ramirez … Brad Lidge (knee)
will return from the disabled list Thursday, according to general
manager Ruben Amaro Jr. … Gary Sheffield was out of the lineup for a
third straight game Wednesday after getting a cortisone shot for his
injured knee … Seth McClung has been tabbed to replace Dave Bush
(biceps) in the rotation and may have some short-term value in NL-only
leagues … Kenshin Kawakami exited Wednesday’s start after taking a Joba
Chamberlain liner off the side of his neck … General manager Neal
Huntington said Wednesday that Ian Snell will remain in the rotation
for at least one more start … David Wright stole his 19th base
Wednesday while going 4-for-4 with three runs.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a designated 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)
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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.