Yonder Alonso, the catcher?

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Yonder Alonso headshot.jpgThat’s right. During the team’s winter caravan event on Saturday, manager Dusty Baker mentioned that the team has considered using prospect Yonder Alonso behind the plate. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com has the quote from the Reds’ skipper:

“That’s always a possibility,” Baker said. “We’ve entertained a few things, even the possibility of putting Alonso behind the plate. He’s built more like a catcher than he is anything. Imagine a left-handed, power-hitting catcher. A lot of that depends on our Minor League development people that spend time with the kids and the time training them.”

Save for a few designated hitter assignments here and there, the former 2008 first-round pick has exclusively played at first base in the minor leagues, so this is probably wishful thinking more than anything else. I’ve looked for any evidence of him playing another position during his time at the University of Miami, but have come up empty-handed.

Alonso, who turns 23 in April, batted .292/.374/.464 with nine home runs and 52 RBI during his first full year of pro ball last season, reaching as high as Double-A Carolina. He was recently ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America and is expected to rise rather quickly, so something will have to give with Joey Votto as the big club’s current first baseman. Many have speculated that Votto will eventually be ticketed for left field.
 

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.