Nats wouldn't object to Strasburg playing in the All-Star game

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Stephen Strasburg has only made three major league starts, but there’s already a groundswell of people who would like to see him pitch in the All-Star Game next month. And according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that the organization wouldn’t object to him pitching in the game.

“The most a pitcher would go [in the All-Star Game] is for two, three innings,” Rizzo said. “Whatever they would need him to do, we would make sure that he does it because it’s an honor to play in it, it’s an honor to be asked. It’s a way for the National League to win the game and give the National League the extra game in the World Series.

“We would be honored that he would be an All-Star and he would certainly play in the All-Star Game. I would love it. If [Phillies manager] Charlie Manuel or MLB feels he is one of the best players in the league and he should be on the All-Star team, he would earn it and deserves it. I would embrace it.”

I’m not high on the idea that players should earn a spot on the All-Star team based on their first-half performance. I simply want to see the best players in the game. So that argument doesn’t have much merit with me. But I would be a little miffed if another deserving rookie like Jaime Garcia got snubbed in favor of Strasburg. Then again, Garcia has a 1.59 ERA over his first 13 starts this season, so barring a complete collapse over the next three weeks or so, he’s a virtual lock to make the team. That’s my only reservation, though.

Not only would the All-Star Game be an awesome national showcase for Strasburg, but I also feel that he would improve the chances of the National League winning home-field advantage in the World Series. And as a National League fan myself, that’s a pretty compelling reason to include him on the roster. We’ll see if Charlie Manuel agrees.
 
 

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.