Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote a great article about Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, whose working-class family in the Dominican Republic made him turn down $20,000 to sign with the Mets as a 16-year-old:
They didn’t want me to sign until I finished high school. I always respected my parents, and I knew it was for my own good, so I didn’t sign. I always figured I was going to be a doctor anyway. … I used to love medicine. My mom’s a nurse. It’s something I grew up seeing. Every time people got sick, my mom would be the one who helped make them better.
He eventually signed with the Rockies when they agreed to let him finish high school. Passan’s article carries the clever headline “Jimenez gave up medicine to dispense pills” because last season he had the highest average fastball velocity in all of baseball while winning 15 games with a 3.47 ERA and 198 strikeouts. And now his older sister is the one studying to become a doctor.
Definitely check out the entire article, which has tons of good stuff (and good writing) about one of the game’s best and most intriguing young pitchers.
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.