The Cubs trailed the Brewers by one run in the ninth inning yesterday and they got their leadoff man — Marlon Byrd — on base. And then, with a powerful hitter who had already stroked three doubles on the day at the plate, Byrd was … caught stealing.
Strange play to say the least. Who steals in that situation? So, naturally, the Chicago sporting press asked Byrd about it in the clubhouse after the game:
“Done,” he said. “Beat it. I respect you guys all the time, and we lose a close game like that and that’s the question you ask? Forget it. Beat it.”
What did he expect to be asked? Allmans vs. Skynyrd?
To be fair to Byrd, he was in a tough spot. Before he told everyone to beat it he reluctantly and obliquely confirmed that he was given the steal sign by third base coach Ivan DeJesus. For his part, manager Mike Quade said that he didn’t put the steal sign on — or at least didn’t think he did — which could be a way of also suggesting that it was DeJesus who gave the sign. It’s entirely possible that DeJesus screwed up and neither his boss nor the player wanted to throw him under the bus. Whatever the case, Byrd is a standup guy who probably would have said so if he was out there freelancing.
All of which, by the way, makes me wonder how this plays out if Mark Cuban’s vision of the future comes to pass and there aren’t any reporters in the clubhouse asking uncomfortable questions. I assume nothing is said by team-controlled media, in which case all of us on the outside are left to assume that either Quade made a boneheaded move or Byrd was trying to spark something, however misguided it was. Then later, Cuban or someone in his position posts something about how everyone’s out to get his guys.
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.