Jacoby Ellsbury finished the first half by swiping his 40th base
yesterday, joining Hall of Famer Tris Speaker as the only players in
Red Sox history to steal at least 40 bases in back-to-back seasons.
Ellsbury is also just 15 steals away from breaking the Red Sox’s
single-season record of 54 steals, which was set by Tommy Harper in
Ellsbury is on pace for 73 steals, which would make him just the
third player this decade to top the 70 mark along with Jose Reyes in
2007 and Scott Podsednik in 2003. Of course, with 44 steals already
Carl Crawford may join the club before Ellsbury. The last time two
players stole at least 70 bases in the same season was way back in
1991, when Marquis Grissom swiped 76 and Otis Nixon swiped 71.
Before that Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman both topped 70 in
1988 and Henderson, Coleman, Tim Raines, and Eric Davis all did it in
1986. In fact, with Henderson, Coleman, and Raines all in their primes
at least two players stole 70 bases in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984,
1985, 1986, and 1988. Incidentally, Ellsbury was born in 1983 and
Crawford was born in 1981.
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.
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.