Incredibly enough, Scott Rolen started at third base for the NL All-Star team earlier this month. That may go down as his one good memory from 2011.
Rolen was placed back on the disabled list Friday because of more pain in the left shoulder that’s troubled him for years. Rolen had played in just one game this week, going 1-for-4 against the Pirates on Wednesday. He’s hit .242/.279/.397 with five homers and 36 RBI in 252 at-bats this season.
With Juan Francisco also shelved, the Reds picked Todd Frazier as his replacement. Frazier, 25, was hitting .260/.340/.467 while splitting time between third base, first base and left field for Triple-A Louisville. He had 15 homers and 17 steals, but he had also fanned 82 times in 90 games.
Expect Miguel Cairo to get most of the starts at third base for now. The journeyman utilityman has exceeded expectations once again this year, hitting .288/.353/.410 in 139 at-bats for the Reds.
The Reds probably won’t go looking for a starting third baseman in trade talks, but they would be smart to bring in someone better than Edgar Renteria to help out. Renteria is batting just .232/.306/.278 and the Reds have refused to use him anywhere other than shortstop, where he isn’t an asset any longer anyway.
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.