Atlanta Braves v San Diego Padres

Casey Kelly shines in his major league debut

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Casey Kelly has had more advanced pub than a lot of rookies. He was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors.  Then he was part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade v.1.

On a personal note, the girlfriend lives in San Antonio, has season tickets to the Double-A Missions and watched him pitch a bunch last year during which time she decided he was one of her baseball boyfriends, so I get an earful about him. I showed her, though: I saw him in his skivvies in the clubhouse during spring training back in March and won’t tell her how he looked.

Anyway, because of all of that, his major league debut last night was notable. A debut I would have missed but for the fact that the girlfriend reminded me of it — which is awful on my part considering he was pitching against the Braves and I wasn’t planning on watching them — but I tuned in anyway.  And the kid was impressive.

I wasn’t a dominating start. He only struck out four and was only touching the low 90s when scouting reports say he’s capable of much more. But he was nonetheless impressive. His curve looked great, fooling many a Brave batter. He held Atlanta scoreless for six innings before the bullpen took the shutout the rest of the way. Thank God he didn’t strike out 12 or something or else the girlfriend would be writing mash notes to him all morning.

Anyway, just another thing going right for the Padres these days.

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.