It was odd enough that the Royals chose washed-up veteran Yuniesky Betancourt over promising prospect Johnny Giavotella for the starting second base job this spring, but now Betancourt has been placed on the disabled list with an ankle injury and Giavotella didn’t even get the call to take his spot.
And it’s not because Giavotella has been struggling at Triple-A, as he’s hitting .301 with an .820 OPS in 25 games after hitting .338 with an .871 OPS in 110 games there last season. He’s also 24 years old, so it’s not as if the Royals want to avoid rushing him to the majors.
Instead they called up Irving Falu, a 28-year-old non-prospect in his fourth season at Triple-A who’s hit just .282 with a .697 OPS in 376 career games at the level. And apparently Chris Getz will take over as the primary second baseman despite being 28 years old with a .631 career OPS.
What good is the Royals’ impressive collection of prospects and young players if they’d rather give jobs to guys like Betancourt, Getz, and Falu?
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.