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Cardinals sign veteran reliever Brian Fuentes to minor league contract

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UPDATE: The Cardinals just announced that they have signed Fuentes to a minor league contract. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the veteran reliever will report to the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate on Monday and is expected to be in the minors for no more than two weeks.

Friday, 10:33 PM: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Fuentes is now “likely” to join the Cardinals.

Friday, 10:30 PM: Brian Fuentes was granted his release by the Athletics this week after being designated for assignment, but he’s not having any trouble attracting potential suitors now that he’s a free agent.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that six teams have shown interest in Fuentes. Meanwhile, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he has interest in the veteran southpaw and hopes to hear a decision at some point this weekend.

Fuentes, 36, posted a 6.84 ERA and 18/10 K/BB ratio over 25 innings this season before getting the boot from Oakland. The Athletics are covering his remaining salary, roughly $2.5 million for the rest of this season and a $500,000 buyout on a $6.5 million option for next season, so he can sign anywhere for a pro-rated portion of the major league minimum. His closing days are over, but he figures to catch on somewhere as a middle reliever.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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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.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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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.