In leaving the Cubs and joining his brother Mike Maddux with the Rangers yesterday Greg Maddux described his new role as “helping the players and the coaches as much as possible” and serving as “another set of eyes.”
His title is officially special assistant to the general manager, which is the same job he had in Chicago, but the future Hall of Famer told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he plans to work extensively with pitchers in the majors and minors:
The first thing I’ve noticed about the Rangers is they have tremendous arms. They’ve got guys in the rotation and the bullpen that throw extremely hard and pitch up as well as any team in baseball. If the pitchers realize that if their pitch selection is good and they can control their emotions, they can have a lot of success.
I just like helping out. I like baseball and I like being around the game and around at the highest levels. Certainly the Rangers play at the highest level. I like the atmosphere, I like talking to players, I like being in the clubhouse, I like looking at game film. I like talking baseball.
Greg and Mike both talked about looking forward to working together, which they last did 20 years ago in winter ball, and Rangers pitchers have a pretty amazing opportunity to go to the ballpark each day and talk pitching with a pair of Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan, plus one of the game’s best pitching coaches in Mike Maddux.
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.