Brandon Belt

Giants say no catcher needed, expect to use Brandon Belt off bench

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Runs?  Who needs ’em?  After all, the Giants are in first place now despite having the NL’s worst offense.

Speaking out prior to Friday’s game, Giants GM Brian Sabean said that he hasn’t made any inquiries about finding a replacement for Buster Posey and manager Bruce Bochy stated that the newly recalled Brandon Belt would be a bench player.

From the San Francisco Chronicle’s Hank Schulman comes word the Giants have heard from teams willing to part with a catcher.  However, Sabean said that he wants to give Eli Whiteside a chance to take over as a regular for now.  He hasn’t inquired about any possible replacements, such as Ivan Rodriguez or Ryan Doumit.

As for Belt, an obvious candidate to provide some sock out of the cleanup spot with Posey absent, Bochy said he’d see some time at first base and in the outfield, but that he’d mostly come off the bench and appear in games as a result of double-switches.

Belt hit .337/.470/.525 with four homers in 31 games after being demoted to Triple-A Fresno.  He was teeing off on right-handed pitching, batting .378/.515/.581.  It suggests that he’d make a great platoonmate for the right-handed-hitting Pat Burrell in left field.

The Giants, though, have been primarily going with a defense-first alignment and putting Nate Schierholtz in right field, with Cody Ross playing left.  It’s worked out OK, since Schierholtz has exceeded expectations by hitting .256/.309/.456.  Ross, though, is hitting just .215/.271/.337.  In all, Giants outfielders are hitting .254/.331/.391 with a mere 55 RBI in 561 at-bats.  That might make it worth sacrificing some defense to get Belt’s bat in there.

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.