The Dodgers installed Dee Gordon as their everyday shortstop and leadoff man this season, but that may not continue for much longer.
Gordon went 0-for-5 with a strikeout in last night’s win over the Cardinals, dropping his batting line down to .200/.239/.255 through 155 plate appearances this season. According to Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hinted after the game that there could be some changes on the way.
“Seeing it from where I was at tonight, it wasn’t very good,” said Mattingly, who got to watch most of it from the center-field television camera on the television in his office because he was ejected by plate umpire Tom Hallion in the top of the third inning. “The game seems to be moving awfully fast for him right now. We are going to continue to make decisions. But in the same breath, this kid is going to be a good player. He is going through something right now that is going to make him a better player later on.
“Things aren’t easy in this game, and there are times when you’re going to go through rough stuff. He is going through some rough stuff right now.”
The Dodgers could just move Gordon out of the leadoff spot to take some pressure off, but Jackson speculates that the speedy 24-year-old could be optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque while he works through his struggles. Justin Sellers would likely function as the regular shortstop in this scenario while Tony Gwynn, Jr. would slide into the leadoff spot.
Gordon’s .241 batting average on balls in play suggests that he has been the victim of some bad luck, especially coming off a .345 BABIP last year, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re still working with a small sample this early in the season and in his brief major league career, but he’s currently hitting more fly balls and less line drives while only six players have a higher infield fly ball rate. He has already drawn more walks (eight) this year than he did in 233 plate appearances last year (seven), which is a good sign, but he has also seen his strikeout rate jump from 11.6 percent to 19.4 percent. While he’s still the shortstop of the future for the Dodgers, he’s just a pretty easy out right now.
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.