Lots of promising young guys make their major league debut every year, but there aren’t many like Stephen Strasburg’s, both in anticipation and in actual payoff. It was a year ago tonight that Strasburg made his, and I’m still in awe over it.
He struck out 14 Pirates batters without issuing a walk. His last pitch of the night — his 94th — was clocked at 98 MPH. He hit 99 MPH multiple times. Between the movement of his fastball and that insane, multi-plane slider thing he threw, Pittsburgh never had a chance. With that heat, though, his changeup looked to be like a future killer, much the way Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum have made their bones off of their changeups despite having so much else going for them. Strasburg showed that night — and again, over the course of the handful of starts he got before his ligaments got the better of him — that he was the total package.
Strasburg’s rehab is reportedly going well. He may see some real action late this season and should, barring any setbacks, be ready for regular action to kick off next year. I don’t know what we’ll see. I hope we see something as close to the pre-surgery Strasburg as is medically possible, though I worry we won’t.
But even if we don’t, we’ll still have those few weeks of 2010 when some of the most electric stuff every unleashed by a rookie pitcher made its way into our living rooms.
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.