The Phillies optioned right-handed reliever Michael Schwimer to Triple-A Lehigh Valley today in order to make room for Jeremy Horst’s return from the paternity leave list. That’s hardly headline news. But the story behind the roster move is a bit more interesting.
Here’s the scoop from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
According to multiple sources, the demotion did not sit well with Schwimer. Two sources said the pitcher had recently complained of a sore arm and believed he should have been placed on the disabled list instead of being sent to the minors. Schwimer apparently made his feelings known to club personnel.
It is against Major League Baseball rules to send an injured player to the minors during the season. Of course, the definition of “injured player” can be subjective.
The usually gregarious Schwimer declined to speak with reporters as he strutted out of the clubhouse before batting practice Thursday. One person who had spoken to Schwimer said the pitcher was “making noise about his arm hurting and getting a second opinion.”
Players who are on the disabled list continue to receive major-league pay and service time, so there are motivations at play here that we usually don’t think about in the day-to-day routine of a baseball season. Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock declined to comment on the situation, but if Schwimer continues to insist that he’s injured, it could open the door to a grievance being filed.
Schwimer, 26, has a 4.46 ERA and 36/16 K/BB ratio over 34 1/3 innings with the Phillies this season.
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.