Angels sticking with Brandon Wood … for now

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Handed the Angels’ starting job at third base following Chone Figgins’ departure as a free agent, Brandon Wood has made three errors in 97 innings defensively and is just 4-for-40 (.100) with 12 strikeouts at the plate.
Wood also struggled in his previous stints with the Angels, and now has a .178 batting average and equally abysmal 86/9 K/BB ratio through 97 games as a major leaguer. However, manager Mike Scioscia told Dan Woike of the Orange County Register that he’s not ready to pull the plug on Wood yet:

He will get an opportunity because we really feel good about his defense. We have some options if we have to take some pressure off him. There is no finite amount of at-bats where we will make a decision and say, “This is it.” Brandon is going to get an opportunity to contribute because we think his bat will play really well in the big leagues. We’ll see moving forward.

Wood has been a well-known and generally highly touted prospect since 2005, but his gaudy minor-league numbers are inflated by hitter-friendly environments and there were always questions about how his high strikeout rate combined with mediocre plate discipline would translate to the big leagues. So far the answer is “not well.”
He has tons of power, but Wood has continued to swing at everything while making poor contact, and unlike against Double-A and Triple-A pitchers he hasn’t been able to punish as many mistakes. He’s certainly much better than he’s shown thus far and the Angels are right to give him a longer leash, but even if Wood had adjusted quickly to the majors most projections pegged him as a Joe Crede-type player rather than a star.

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)
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.