Driver who killed Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart found guilty

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Andrew
Gallo, the man behind the wheel of the van that broadsided a car carrying Los Angels Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, killing him and two companions, was found guilty today by a jury in Santa Ana, California.

Gallo had been tried on three counts of murder and other offenses, including drunk driving. His blood alcohol content was tested at .19 several hours after the accident. Experts testified at trial that it was likely at .22 at the time of the crash.  Testimony had him on a seven-hour drinking binge prior to the crash and travelling at close to 70 miles per hour when the van he was driving struck the car carrying Adenhart.

Despite this, the verdict was by no means a slam dunk, as prosecutors elected not to submit charges of manslaughter to the jury as an alternative to the murder counts, which frequently occurs in drunk driving fatality cases. That was a risky move, in that the jury could have conceivably found that Gallo was drunk and caused the accident and the deaths but acquitted him anyway if they failed to find the requisite intent for murder. Apparently, however, this was not a problem for the jury. Helpful in this regard, no doubt, was Gallo’s extremely high blood alcohol level and the fact that he had a previous drunk driving conviction.

Adenhart was one of the top prospects in the Angels system. After a cup of coffee in 2008, he put together a fine season in AAA. His 2009 debut came on the night of the crash: April 8, 2009. He earned a no-decision that night, shutting out the A’s on seven hits over six innings.  His future — as well as the futures of Courtney Frances Stewart and Henry Nigel Pearson, Adenhart’s friends who were also killed in the accident — was a bright one.  A fourth victim, Jon Wilhite continues to recover from horrific injuries.

Gallo faces 55 years to life when sentenced. Here’s hoping the judge goes long.

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.