During an appearance with Steve Cochran on ESPN1000 in Chicago yesterday, Lou Piniella said he believes Mike Quade deserved the opportunity to return as Cubs manager.
“Mike’s a good baseball man. He’s been in baseball for a long, long time,” Piniella said. “He got that opportunity when I left there and I tell you what, the club responded to him and they played exceedingly well. And I know it was a very tough decision for everybody in the organization choosing between Mike and other viable candidates, but you know, he deserved it.”
Quade led the Cubs to a 24-13 record (.649) after Piniella stepped down in late-August in order to tend to his ailing mother. Ryne Sandberg was the fan favorite for the job and certainly deserved consideration after being named the Pacific Coast League manager of the year in his first season with Triple-A Iowa, but Quade earned the vocal support of many of his players.
As for Piniella, he told Cochran that his mother is still fighting.
“She’s having her good days and her bad days,” Piniella said of his mother’s health. “Sometimes I’m heartened a bit and sometimes it’s discouraging. She’s going to be 91 years old now, here in December, so she’s a scrappy old gal. I needed to come home, I did the right thing and she’s appreciated the fact that I’ve been home.”
Piniella, now 67, is almost certainly done in the dugout, but he’ll resurface in the game eventually. Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner recently told the Chicago Tribune that he hopes Piniella will consider re-joining the club in an advisory role.
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.