UPDATE: Holy Cow, it’s Zambrano!
Jon Heyman notes in his latest column that Ted Lilly is set to make his season debut for the Cubs on Saturday and that his return to the rotation will require that someone get sent to the bullpen. Heyman reports that the Cubs are inclined to keep Tom Gorzelanny in his starting slot, and lord knows that Carlos Zambrano does not exactly have the temperament to live down in the pen. So who goes? Heyman says Ryan Demptser:
If it’s anyone, Dempster — who makes almost $13 million a year as a
starter but has been a semi-successful closer in the past — might be
the most logical of the four.
Really? This seems like a really shortsighted move to me. Carlos Silva may have 13 innings without an earned run to start off the year, but are we really going to let a couple of April starts from the ballast of the Milton Bradley trade send Ryan Dempster back to the bullpen?
I have faith that Dempster would do just fine in relief, but such a move seems shortsighted to me. I’d much rather sacrifice Gorzelanny or Silva — or even make Zambrano a mopup man now that I think about it — than turn Dempster into a $13 million setup man.
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.