Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day

Man who won’t make Hall of Fame says what hat he wants to wear on his plaque

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I like Johnny Damon as a player. He’s had a nice career. He’s the archetypal Hall of Very Good guy.  The HoVG’s Mt. Rushmore* could easily have him, Mark Grace, Jack Morris and, I dunno, Vada Pinson on it.  But a Hall of Famer?  Eh:

It stinks that [3,000 hits] might be my only chance [at the Hall of Fame], because I’m climbing the runs list, too. I think all of those years I did it quietly without really thinking about my numbers. Is it realistic? Yes. Is it the most important thing to me? No. The numbers would be great to attain, but I really don’t know how many more years I’ll play. If this is a rough year for me, I’m going home. If not, I’ll keep getting after it.”

… So which hat? “I think it goes by the longest tenure, so it would be Kansas City,” he said. “Wade Boggs messed that up for everybody.”

Well, he’s right about Boggs messing up the Hall-of-Famers-choose-their-own-hat thing with that side deal he allegedly made with the Devil Rays.  But really, with Damon I think the conversation is academic.

But if he gets to pick which hat he can wear on the plaque he’s not getting, so can I.  When I’m inducted, I want to wear my tan corduroy Kangol bucket hat. It may not be baseball-related, but it has accompanied me and kept my bald head sunburn-free since I picked it up on an epic road trip I took eight years ago. I’d die without that hat. Has to be on my plaque.

*This could be the subject of its own post, but for the time being, I don’t think that guys who have very, very close but ultimate just lacking Hall of Fame arguments (e.g. Fred McGriff) should be on the HoVG’s Mt. Rushmore. They’re true tweeners who don’t necessarily represent what the HoVg is all about. My HoVG  Mt. Rushmore should have people that had excellent careers but who lack a truly serious argument for Cooperstown. And no, just because a lot of misguided people think that Morris has one doesn’t change the appropriateness of his inclusion. This is my friggin’ Mt. Rushmore, OK?

Reid Brignac is trying to become a designated 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.