Tradition Field

Behold the power of spring training

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Moses Green is a longtime reader (and occasional proofreader) of mine.  He’s also a Mets fan, and had the opportunity to take in a Mets spring training game there the other day.  He waxed crazy-effusive:

Quick spring training note:  visited Port St. Lucie with a buddy while driving home to CT from Miami.  Got to the Mets-Nats game there at the Mets’ facility at 11 a.m. for a 1:05 p.m. start with the car and coolers all packed.  Tailgating you say?  Why no – sunscreen and straight in to watch batting practice.

I really just wanted to give you a quick rave about the Mets’ training facility down there – we were able to walk all around in between the various practice fields and watch an instructional league practice game in progress.  The game was poorly attended IMO, and I was hoping if nothing else you could pass this along to your followers:  If you’re a Mets fan with the financial resources and ability to go down there and stay for a week during spring training, you must do this.  I don’t even like the Mets and I had an amazing time.  I paid $20, got to do all that, and then sit 15 feet from David Wright during a baseball game.

I was really moved down there, just talking to people in bars and restaurants, reading the news, at just how hard Florida was hit by the Recession and how very little the Recovery has begun down there.  It occurred to me that there were a lot of parallels between Port St. Lucie and the Mets organization (and by extension, Mets fans) – you’re talking about an area and a team that have gone through really tough times lately, with more of the same on the horizon.  Visiting a beautiful spot and spending some tourist money in a stricken area to support your team seams like the perfect panacea for Port St. Lucie, the Mets, and Mets fans alike.

The Mets may not be great this year. The Treasure Coast economy may be even worse.  And, in my opinion anyway, Tradition Field probably falls near the low-end of the spring training facility rankings.  But the joint was spewing and inspiring optimism the other day, the way no place besides a spring training ballpark truly can. How can you not love that?

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.