Tony La Russa responds to Jack Clark

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There’s a war of words in St. Louis. You may have already heard that
Jack Clark, who spent three years with the Cardinals, thinks Mark
McGwire should be banned from baseball. He also questioned Tony La Russa’s claim that he didn’t know McGwire was on steroids during his tenure in Oakland and St. Louis:

“[McGwire’s] own manager never knew that [Jose] Canseco and McGwire and
anybody else ever had taken steroids? Trust me, from [a former player], I have a lot of insight into who did
what and when but I’m not even going to talk about it. It really
doesn’t matter.”

La Russa responded to Clark in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday night:

“I would say I always respected the career Jack had and he’s entitled to his opinion. But his comments about me are wrong.”

What better time for the whole gang to meet up at this weekend’s
“Winter Warm-Up” event in St. Louis? The team has confirmed that
McGwire will make his first public appearance as the team’s new hitting coach on Sunday,
where he is expected to sit down with one of the team’s broadcasters for
an interview in front of the fans. Just don’t expect Clark to be very
cordial should they cross paths this weekend.

“I’m not going to say hello. I’m not going to shake his hand. He’s a sad excuse for a
player in the industry of baseball. Just seeing him in uniform makes me
throw up.”

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.