We’re living in the dark ages of baseball nicknames. Most players don’t even have one, and most of those who do have dumb ones that rarely amount to more than adding a “y” or “ey” on to the end of their names. In a sport that gave us “Oil Can,” “The Yankee Clipper,” and “Death to Flying Things,” it’s sad damn state of affairs. Even more sad is that we apparently now have to give up one of the few good ones out there:
Pujols politely asked that the media and fans refrain from calling
him “El Hombre,” because he believes it’s disrespectful to Cardinals
Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial.
“I don’t want to be called that,” Pujols said. “There is one man
that gets that respect, and that’s Stan Musial. He’s the Man. He’s the
Man in St. Louis. And I know ‘El Hombre’ means ‘The Man’ in Spanish.
But Stan is The Man. You can call me whatever else you want, but just
don’t call me El Hombre.”
OK, I’ll grant that it’s hard to argue with his reasoning. But if you can’t pick your own nickname, you certainly can’t un-pick one others have bestowed upon you. If you could, Dick Stuart wouldn’t be remembered as “Dr. Strangeglove,” and that weird kid from my high school who everyone picked on wouldn’t be doing 25-to-life at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex.
So unless someone can come up with an alternative nickname for Pujols — something as menacing as, say, “The Big Hurt” but which simultaneously captures Pujols’ class and grace — I’m sticking with El Hombre.
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.