On Monday night Alfonso Soriano hit a long fly ball that, had he been running out of the box instead of watching his handiwork, would have probably been a triple. It did not go unnoticed by Cubs’
radio TV announcer Bob Brenly, who snarked “wouldn’t it be refreshing if we could get our left-fielder to run as
hard as Ted Lilly does?” referring to Lilly’s attempted steal during a rehab start in Peoria.
He went on, saying that Soriano’s lack of hustle “sets a bad precedent to the team,” and sends “a bad message to the younger
players.” Which would be a damning criticism if the Cubs actually had any younger players.
Seriously, though, Brenly has a point. Sure, old managers saying that guys don’t hustle is not exactly a newsworthy occurrence, but Alfonso Soriano doesn’t need to be making himself a point of contention at the moment. It’s not often that a team will simply eat $90 million by cutting a guy, but it’s not totally fantastical to think that it could happen here.
The new owners aren’t psychologically or politically invested in that awful contract and if the team tanks — as it appears it very well might — cutting loose a seemingly lackadaisical symbol of the failed former regime may actually win them some fan support. The manager is probably going to retire after this season. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the GM canned this fall as well. Why not clean out the dead wood leftfielder too?
I guess what I’m saying is that if I were Alfonso Soriano I’d at least try to hustle a little bit, because while your mileage may vary, it seems like getting $90 million to play baseball would be preferable to getting $90 million to do nothing.
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.