Clayton Kershaw was chosen as the Roberto Clemente Award recipient on Sunday, making him the youngest winner in the award’s 42-year history.
The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and community involvement. There are also bonus points for being really, really good at baseball. The only non-superstars to win it in the last decade were Jamie Moyer in 2003 and Tim Wakefield in 2010. David Ortiz won it last year.
With less than five years of service time, Kershaw is the least experienced player ever to win the award. The Indians’ Andre Thornton won it in 1979, six years after his debut. Barry Larkin was chosen in 1993, seven years after his debut with the Reds.
Kershaw and his wife run the charity organization “Kershaw’s Challenge,” which has worked to build an orphanage in Zambia. Kershaw travels to Africa each winter, and he and his wife wrote a book about their experiences there.
“I am happy to congratulate Clayton Kershaw on being named the recipient of this year’s Roberto Clemente Award,” said Vera Clemente, Roberto’s widow. “The work that this young man has accomplished to help youth around the world is wonderful, and we are proud to welcome him among the many players who have carried on Roberto’s legacy.”
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.