It looks like the Diamondbacks and Aaron Heilman might have erred in trying the veteran setup man as a starter this spring. The 32-year-old right-hander was placed on the DL for the first time in his career Friday due to a case of shoulder tendinitis.
Replacing him on the roster will be 25-year-old righty Josh Collmenter.
Heilman, who lost out to Armando Galarraga for the last spot in Arizona’s rotation, had allowed nine runs in 6 2/3 innings out of the pen this season. Six of those runs came Wednesday in Arizona’s 15-5 loss to the Cardinals, when he was struggling to touch 90 with his usual 91-94 mph fastball.
Heilman is one of just four relievers to make at least 60 appearances and pitch at least 60 innings each of the last five years, joining Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Cordero and Mariano Rivera. And that’s actually setting the bar low for him: he was over 70 appearances and 70 innings in each of the five seasons, something none of those closers did. Only two other pitchers (Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch) matched those marks over four of the last five seasons.
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.