Twins getting what they paid for with Crede

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Joe Crede is once again out of the Twins’ lineup, this time with complications from last year’s back surgery. He dropped into Minnesota’s price range this offseason following multiple back surgeries and various other health problems, and had to settle for an incentive-laden one-year deal after eight seasons in Chicago.
Despite having to accumulate plate appearances to make money Crede has played in just 88 of 126 games, and the amazing thing is that he’s been out of the lineup 30 percent of the time without spending a second on the disabled list. Instead he’s missed 3-5 games every couple weeks, leaving the Twins to play with a 24-man roster for long stretches while essentially being “day-to-day” for five months.
When healthy enough to play Crede provided some nice power in April and May, hitting .239/.304/.493 with nine homers in 37 games to go along with outstanding defense at third base. Unfortunately he’s hit just .222/.285/.371 with six homers in 51 games since then, and his various maladies have left the Twins sharing the other 42 starts among the fearsome foursome of Brendan Harris, Brian Buscher, Matt Tolbert, and Nick Punto.
Not coincidentally the Twins rank 11th in the 14-team league with a measly .695 OPS from third base, which is nothing new for them. Corey Koskie was Minnesota’s third baseman from 1999 to 2004, hitting .280/.373/.463 with 52 extra-base hits per 500 at-bats, but since losing him to free agency five years ago Twins third basemen have ranked 10th, 13th, 14th, 11th, and 11th in OPS among AL teams.

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.