Derrick Turnbow is so determined to win a spot on the Marlins’ pitching staff that the big toe on his left foot being “a bloody mess” yesterday didn’t stop him from throwing a bullpen session:
“My toenail jammed up in my shoe about a week ago and it caused it to swell up,” Turnbow said. “It got infected and it affected my command a lot the first two times I was out. I didn’t say anything. Today, it busted open and all the blood came out. It felt better immediately.”
Turnbow’s toe exploded just before he stepped onto the bullpen mound. The pitcher removed his left sock to allow a trainer to apply a bandage, then began throwing and feeling better than ever. Marlins outfielder Cody Ross described Turnbow’s toe as “disgusting” when the pitcher showed it to him recently.
And to think everyone made such a big deal about Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.
Now that his toe has “busted open” and “exploded” into “a bloody mess” Turnbow believes his control will improve, but his track record of historic wildness suggests otherwise. When healthy and throwing strikes Turnbow has overpowering raw stuff, but injuries and walks are why he barely pitched in 2008, was out of the majors in 2009, and is trying to win a job on a minor-league contract now.
Turnbow has the worst walk rate among all active pitchers with at least 250 career innings, handing out a ridiculous 5.87 free passes per nine innings. He’s given up almost as many walks (168) as hits (206) during his career, including 63 walks in 30.2 innings between the majors and minors over the past two seasons. Amazingly, exploding toes are the least of the 32-year-old right-hander’s problems.
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.