It’s safe to say that Johan Santana is back.
In an effort which was both dominant and efficient, Santana tossed a four hit-shutout this afternoon at Citi Field as part of a 9-0 victory over the light-hitting Padres. All four hits he gave up were singles and he threw 74 out of 96 pitches for strikes. He struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk.
Santana has been the victim of low run support this season, but that wasn’t an issue for him today. The Mets scored four runs off Clayton Richard in the first inning on homers from Scott Hairston and Vinny Rottino and tacked on five more in the ninth inning against former Met Dale Thayer, including a grand slam by Mike Nickeas.
This was the ninth shutout of Santana’s career and his first since August 10, 2010 against the Rockies. Sure, the Padres are one of the worst offensive teams in the sport, but today’s outing was an important benchmark for someone who missed all of last season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. The 33-year-old southpaw hadn’t lasted longer than seven innings in any of his previous nine starts this year.
While Santana’s velocity isn’t what it was prior to surgery, he has an outstanding 2.75 ERA and 60/16 K/BB ratio over 59 innings this season. That’ll work.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
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.