Vlad joins the 400-homer club

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This season has mostly been a forgettable one for Vladimir Guerrero, who’s posting career-worst numbers at the plate and has missed 57 of 110 games with various injuries. However, he’s been on fire since returning from the disabled list last week, raising his OPS by 60 points in just seven games, and hit a pair of long balls last night to join the 400-homer club.
Guerrero is two-thirds of the way into his age-34 season and his 400 homers rank 24th all time through the age of 34, putting him in striking distance of Ernie Banks (404), Carlos Delgado (407), and Reggie Jackson (410). Alex Rodriguez is the leader in homers through age 34 with 574, which is amazing given that he’s only 33 years old. He has another 200 or so games to increase his lead over Sammy Sosa (539), Jimmie Foxx (527), Babe Ruth (516), Hank Aaron (510), and Willie Mays (505).
Much has been made of the 500-homer milestone losing its luster as power numbers exploded in recent years, but Guerrero is a good example of why going deep 500 times is still really, really hard. He’s been in the majors since the age of 22, has played in over 90 percent of his team’s games, produced at least 25 homers each season from 1998 to 2008, ranked among the league’s top 10 in homers seven times … and still has “only” 400 with six weeks remaining in his age-34 season.
Guerrero may seem like a pretty safe bet to smack another 100 homers, but then again he has just eight this season, appears to be deteriorating physically, turns 35 years old in February, and hasn’t homered 30 times since 2006. Can he bounce back with 25 homers next season and then go deep another 25 times in 2011 and 2012? If so, he’ll still need 20-25 homers as a 38-year-old in 2013. Five-hundred remains a very big number.

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)
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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.