Marc Stein of ESPN Dallas reported yesterday that MLB rejected the Rangers’ request to have Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki throw out the ceremonial first pitch once the World Series moves to Texas.
That led to a lot of angry fans, particularly since MLB’s attempted explanation didn’t really make much sense, and now they’ve changed their mind. Stein reports that MLB has invited Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch before Game 3 on Saturday.
MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney told Stein that commissioner Bud Selig was not involved in the original denial of the Rangers’ request and “ordered the reversal” once he found out. Nowitzki had already taken to Twitter to comment on the rejection, writing that “MLB is too old school” and “I will still be there to support our boys.”
All of which makes MLB’s original decision and initial attempts to explain the rejection all the more confusing, but better late than never I suppose. Sources told Stein that MLB was hesitant to let an NBA player throw out the first pitch because they’re supporting the NBA in the ongoing lockout, but Courtney denied that. Of course, he also said that Nowitzki lacked the “good broad-base national appeal” to be a first-pitch candidate, so who knows.
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.