Last week there was some Chicago-based speculation that the White Sox might hire Jim Thome as their new hitting coach, but that seemed illogical to me right off the bat and today Thome made it clear that he has no plans to retire, let alone to retire and immediately become a hitting coach.
While appearing at an event in Cleveland this morning Thome shared his plans with Jordan Bastian of MLB.com:
I want to keep playing. I’ll keep playing. I just have to have teams that call me. I can’t go play in the backyard by myself.
That last part is a great out-of-context quote.
Thome is right, of course. Last offseason he was coming off a monster year and ended up re-signing with the Twins in part because he liked Minnesota and in part because the market for 40-year-old designated hitters is so limited. Now he’s coming off a much less impressive season and is a year older, so Thome may not have many choices.
He’s still plenty productive, however, hitting 15 homers, drawing 46 walks, and posting an .838 OPS in 93 games for the Twins and Indians.
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.