Francisco Cordero, Edinson Volquez

The Reds and Cardinals are getting ugly. And it’s wonderful.

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Yeah, I’m using this picture again. It’s a great picture.

I have absolutely no plans to take a side in the increasingly ugly Reds-Cardinals rivalry. I’m just thankful that it’s as intense as it is, because baseball needs a good hate-filled rivalry right now.  Giants-Dodgers still has bile but that got too damn real this year — let’s keep our hatred between the lines, please —  so we can’t enjoy it.  The Yankees and Red Sox really don’t seem to take much displeasure in the other’s company these days, perhaps because they realized that they have far more in common with one another than anything else.

But boy those Reds and Cardinals hate one another. And it was on display in that shouting match at the end of yesterday’s game following Albert Pujols getting hit by the pitch from Francisco Cordero.

About that:  while I’m not going to take sides in the rivalry — I hope they end the season tied for first and then have to play a 17 inning playoff against each other — I do think that Dave Duncan and the Cardinals were wrong to take umbrage at Cordero, because it makes little if any sense that he was throwing at Pujols.  It was an inside pitch, but not terribly inside, and given the situation — close game, Pujols representing the tying run and an imploding Reds’ bullpen — there was no way he was trying to hit Pujols.

Wait: I was just talking about nastiness, and that explanation was too nice.  Let’s let reader metalhead65 explain it, as he did in the comments of the Aroldis Chapman post this morning.  His comment was inspired the passage I wrote that went “… lost in the Reds’ victory …”  I’m leaving the lack of capitalization intact, because it helps communicate the passion and urgency of it all:

Craig,the only thing lost in the reds victory was Brandon Phillips once again being proven right about his comment on the cards being whiny bitches. they lost the game and series but were crying that king albert was being hit on purpose? go to a cards blog today and read where the so called best and most knowledgeable fans agree with that thought and it makes you wonder how they got that reputation. he was ahead in the count 0-2 and trying to get out of the jam chapman put them in and he is going to hit king albert to face 2 of the best hitters in the national league?one of which has hit more homers in cincy than any other player?

this is the reason reds fans hate the cardnials and thier fans. once again they show thier double standard when it comes to that team. it is ok for thier pitcher to hit the reds starting catcher in the wrist fri. and nothing is said but a reds pitcher has 1 get away in a situation he can’t afford for it to happen and it is intentional? and he is supposed to stand thier and take abuse from a bench coach and a third string catcher? the guy who got hit knows it was not on purpose but the rest of those clowns have to mouth off? you lost and no longer own the reds deal with it!

Like I said, I neither endorse nor condemn those comments. And for equal time, go to the Post-Dispatch’s fan comment board to hear Cardinals fans jawing at Cordero and the Reds. I just want this level of intensity to continue because it’s great fun.

The Reds meet the Cardinals again on July 4th.  This is gonna be an awesome summer in the Midwest.

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.