Despite Scott Boras’ best efforts, the Tigers still aren’t taking the bait on free agent closer Rafael Soriano. According to Chris Iott of MLive.com, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said this week that he’s pretty satisfied with the guys in his bullpen and isn’t going to add anyone unless it’s the right fit.
“It would have to be the right guy, the right situation, all those types of things,” Dombrowski said. “We’re not just out to sign somebody to fill a hole. We’ve got enough arms.”
As of now, the Tigers will likely carry seven relief pitchers on their Opening Day roster, including five right-handers and two left-handers. Phil Coke is a lock from the left side while the Tigers plan to have a competition for the other spot. Meanwhile, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel are locks from the right side while Dombrowski believes Al Alburquerque and Bryan Villarreal deserve to be on the roster. This leaves one final spot, and by all accounts, prospect right-hander Bruce Rondon will get a chance at the closer role.
I don’t doubt that Rondon could eventually close for the Tigers, as he throws hard and put up some impressive strikeout totals this past season, but it would be a pretty big gamble for a team with designs on the World Series to trust someone who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues. This could drag on for a while, but with no other obvious fit for Soriano, I suspect they’ll eventually be a match.
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.