Carl Pavano and his mustache are eating innings for Twins

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Minnesota’s bullpen was gassed after Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey both failed to make it out of the second inning in their Friday and Saturday starts against the Phillies, so yesterday afternoon the Twins desperately needed a long outing and got it from either a likely or unlikely source depending on your point of view.
Carl Pavano tossed a 105-pitch complete game in Philadelphia, out-dueling Roy Halladay by allowing just one run on four hits and no walks. Pavano stepping up in a key spot to give the bullpen a much-needed break probably sounds absurd to the New Yorkers who watched him earn $40 million to make 26 starts for the Yankees, but Minnesotans have gotten to know a much different Pavano after the Twins acquired him in the middle of last season.
Pavano has gone 13-10 with a 4.08 ERA in 26 starts for the Twins, including 8-6 with a 3.64 ERA in 14 outings this year, and hasn’t missed a turn in the rotation since 2008. And not only has he been healthy and effective after four miserable years in New York, he’s proving to be a workhorse by going at least seven innings in 10 of his last 11 starts.
Since he debuted for the Twins on August 8 of last season, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, and Zack Greinke are the only AL pitchers with more innings than Pavano at 170. And none of them can boast the same kind of dominant facial hair that Pavano has been sporting lately.

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.