Don Baylor is the Rockies’ hitting coach. He used to be their manager. He wants to manage again:
“The last interview that I had was the one with the Phillies when Charlie Manuel took the job. So that’s a long time ago. If it’s in the cards again for me, we’ll see . . . Managing a team in the World Series is what motivates me. I played on teams that made it, and been a coach on a couple, but managing your own World Series team is that big giant carrot that you’re trying to obtain. The past is in the books, and I’m trying to focus on things in front of me. I enjoy what I do now very much and really like being here. But I know I can still manage.”
I can’t say that I’ve thought of Baylor as a managerial candidate for some time, but that’s really just because he hasn’t been named as a candidate by anyone, as he says, since 2004. There’s a certain buzz and a political vibe around the kinds of guys who get multiple chances at manager jobs. Maybe that’s media-created, maybe it’s reflective of real politicking behind the scenes. I’m really not sure. I am sure, however, that Baylor has never given off that vibe as someone who’s out there networking his butt off to get another gig.
It’s possible that his cancer diagnosis several years ago — which he beat, by the way — has contributed to this. It would be unfair if that was the case, yes, but baseball wouldn’t be the first industry to be loathe to hire people with some medical history for high-pressure leadership positions.
And of course, more important than anything else is the fact that — let’s face it — no one ever accused Baylor of being a managerial genius. He had his supporters and he had his detractors like so many, but no one ever thought “we HAVE to get Don Baylor for the next job!” If you’re not networked out the yingyang, you probably need to be that guy to be considered for the top job.
Baylor is perceived as a good hitting coach. It sounds like that’s the job he’ll likely top out at going forward.
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.