In what should come as a surprise to no one, baseball’s umpires have become the story here in the first few games of the 2010 postseason.
The umps blew a call in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s ALDS Game 1 between the Yankees and Twins, ruling a perfectly good catch by Yanks outfielder Greg Golson a “trap.” Then a blown check-swing call in this afternoon’s ALDS Game 2 between the Rangers and Rays led to a Michael Young three-run homer. Young should have been out, but was given another hack and changed the outcome of the game with a towering shot to center field.
Now the boys in blue are playing a factor in tonight’s ALDS Game 2 in Minnesota. Yankees designated hitter Lance Berkman should have been called out in the seventh inning on a Carl Pavano pitch that hugged the inside corner of the strike zone, but home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called the pitch a ball and Berkman launched a run-scoring double moments later.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire argued Wendelstedt’s mistake while making a visit to the mound and was quickly thrown out. The Twins trail the Yanks 4-2 as this Game 2 tilt heads to the final few frames.
A replay system for ball and strike calls won’t work, and should never be implemented, but it’s past time to explore an expanded strategy for other on-field calls. This
isn’t about trashing the umps — they do the best they can. This is about getting the calls correct.
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.