Interesting move by the Rays this afternoon, as they have added former 2004 No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush to their 40-man roster, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Bush, who turns 25 in February, otherwise would have had the right to become a free agent.
Bush, of course, is known as one of the biggest busts in draft history. He was involved in a bar fight before even making his pro debut and batted just .219/.294/.276 over four seasons before trying his luck as a pitcher in 2007. He was picked up by the Blue Jays in February of 2009 after missing the entire 2008 season following Tommy John surgery, but was cut loose after allegedly assaulting some lacrosse players at his old high school. In addition to his extensive legal troubles, he has the unfortunate distinction of joining Brien Taylor and Steve Chilcott as the only former No. 1 picks never to play in the major leagues.
The Rays took a chance by signing Bush to a minor league contract in January. He posted a 3.29 ERA and 20/3 K/BB ratio over 13 2/3 innings between rookie ball and High-A Charlotte this past season, which was apparently impressive enough for him to return for another season. If he manages to end up as a pitcher in the major leagues, great, but turning his life around should still be the No. 1 priority.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
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.