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Interleague attendance is spectacular, announces MLB PR apparatus

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It’s been a very press-releasy day at MLB. Just got another one touting interlague play:

Major League Baseball drew 8,468,620 fans during Interleague games this season for an average of 33,606 per game. The 2011 Interleague average is 18.2 percent higher than this season’s current intraleague average of 28,421 per game. Since its inception in 1997, Interleague Play has drawn 12.0 percent more fans than intraleague games; Interleague Play has averaged 33,285 fans per game, compared to the intraleague average of 29,716 fans per game during the same span.

There are clearly some appealing interleague matchups that drive that attendance difference. Yankees-Cubs and a host of cross-town and rivalry series are legitimate draws, and the overall marketability of much of the interleague schedule is undeniable.

At the same time, these differences are partly the product of apples-oranges comparisons, as those intraleague numbers are weighted more toward the earlier, cold, rainy part of the season and don’t have the benefit of holiday weekends like interpleague play got. One figures that, if the timing of the interleague and intraleague slates were tweaked a bit, the differences would not be as stark.

Mostly, one just wonders if it’s possible to keep the great interleague matchups while dispensing with the less-appealing ones — Seattle vs. San Diego, anyone? — in favor of more matchups that have a more direct impact on division races.  I kind of doubt it, but I’d like to spend more time thinking critically about interleague play and scheduling issues and less time going all rah-rah with it.

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.