Stephen Strasburg to debut on June 8 vs. Pirates

4 Comments

Strasburg debut.jpgIt’s finally official. After rampant speculation and anticipation, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told Bill Ladson of MLB.com that 2009 first-round pick Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his major league debut on Tuesday, June 8 against the Pirates.

The 21-year-old right-hander has blown the doors off minor league
competition, going 6-2 with a 1.43 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and a 60/12 K/BB ratio
through his first 10 professional starts. Naturally, the Nationals have been more than pleased with their record-breaking investment. And with his potential “Super Two” status no longer a concern, they are ready to set him loose on major league hitters.

“Along with [pitching coordinator] Spin Williams and pitching coach
Steve McCatty, we had a plan in place since Spring Training [for
Strasburg],” Rizzo said. “We believe he is ready to go. We like that
Stephen could bounce back from tough outings.”

But he isn’t bound for NatsTown quite yet. Strasburg is scheduled for one final tuneup with Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday, where Rizzo said he is expected to throw six innings or 95 pitches.

And now time for a little experiment. I’m wondering how many fans who bought tickets to the widely-hyped June 4 game will actually show up to watch J.D Martin or somebody of similar ilk?

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
4 Comments

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
2 Comments

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.