When 24-year-old Japanese ace Yu Darvish was asked last winter if he was considering making the jump to Major League Baseball for the start of the 2012 season, he offered a “no comment.”
Several months later, Darvish still hasn’t commented on the matter. But that hasn’t stopped MLB teams from scouting him and dreaming of how he might fare near the top of a big league starting rotation.
In late June, Rangers GM Jon Daniels headed to Japan to see Darvish for himself. Many other front office executives have done the same. And every major league club is at least keeping some form of tabs on the 6-foot-5 right-hander.
According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, we can now add the Nationals to the list of teams that have expressed public interest in acquiring Darvish should he be made available to bidding in the United States.
Darvish registered a 1.82 ERA as a rookie in 2007, a 1.88 ERA in 2008, a 1.73 ERA in 2009, and a 1.78 ERA in 2010. This season, he is 13-2 with a 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Even with Daisuke Matsuzaka’s failures, Darvish stands to make millions upon millions if he agrees to test out the posting process. He is Japan’s highest-paid player at $6 million annually. In the U.S., he could easily double that.
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.