Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

Darren Oliver wants a raise to return to Blue Jays for another season

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The Blue Jays exercised their $3 million club option on Darren Oliver earlier this winter in hopes of convincing him to come back for another season, but there’s still no resolution with the 42-year-old left-hander.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that while Oliver wants to play, he’s not willing to return unless the Blue Jays increase his salary for 2013. His reasoning is that he would rather retire than be away from his family at a salary below the market value.

According to Rosenthal, Oliver figured that he would likely hang it up after 2012 when he signed with the Blue Jays last offseason, but he’s coming off a 2.06 ERA in 56 2/3 innings and a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the past five seasons. In a world where fellow left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt got a three-year, $18 million contract from the Giants, he’s trying to leverage his situation into a better deal. The Blue Jays aren’t blinking yet, as Rosenthal was told by a source that they might need to make some moves just to accommodate his $3 million salary for 2013.

One long-rumored compromise is a trade back to his hometown Rangers, where he pitched from 1993-1998, 2000-2001 and 2010-2011. Rosenthal writes that the veteran southpaw “would welcome” that outcome and would likely be more flexible with his financial requirements if he could be closer to home. There’s no indication that a deal is close, though.

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.