Many of you are saying “who is Bruce Rondon?” The most relevant answer to that question for you is that he’s the reason why the Tigers aren’t, according to Danny Knobler, going to be players for Rafael Soriano or any other established closer types:
Hard-throwing is right. He’s a big old hoss of a dude who strikes out a lot of guys. He pitched at three different levels last year, striking out 66 in 53 innings. He walks a fair number of guys, but he’s trending in a better direction with that.
A poor-man’s Craig Kimbrel? The comp is crazy on the surface due to Kimbrel’s dominance in the bigs, but there were questions about calling him up and handing him a job too due to concerns about his control. Rondon doesn’t strike out nearly as many guys per nine as Kimbrel did in the minors, thus the “poor-man’s” part of it, but Kimbrel walked more dudes.
The point, though, isn’t that Rondon be anything close to Kimbrel. The point is that he’s cheap and team controlled and is likely to be way better than Jose Valverde, and if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that going big on free agent closers is a sucker’s game. If I’m Detroit I hand Rondon the ball to see if he can do it. If that doesn’t work, try something else. They won the pennant with Valverde basically on the bench, so they can make it through a couple months of the season that way too.
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.