Johnny Damon got his 2,500th hit last night. After the game he talked a lot about it. The takeaway: There’s no “i” in “team,” but there is in “Johnny Damon:”
Prior to the game, Damon was asked what that hit would
mean to him.
“It is another stepping stone to getting to the ultimate place,” he
Asked if he was referring to the Baseball Hall of Fame in
Cooperstown, Damon nodded, adding he hopes to reach 3,000 hits.
“You get that total or 500 homers and it would be something that
normally gets you in,” Damon said.
…He is a career .288 batter and has reached .300 five times with a
career-best of .327 with Kansas City in 2000, when he also had a
career-high 214 hits.
“I wished I’d thought of this earlier in my career,” Damon said of
the hit total. “I was never as greedy as maybe I should’ve been.”
Damon went on to talk about all those days off he took after the Yankees and Red Sox clinched and how they likely deprived him of hits.
It’s impossible tell from the text of the article if Damon was actually regretting those days off and those hits-not-achieved or if it was merely a casual observation, but either way it is unusual for the starting left fielder of a team in a playoff race talking about that kind of stuff.
This doesn’t bother me, really — I hate the canned “only winning matters” rebop, because I think it’s silly to assume that guys don’t think about their stats and milestones — but you certainly don’t see it every day.
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.