Instead of complaining about the fact that Heath Bell and Willie Bloomquist are on Team USA’s provisional World Baseball Classic roster, I thought it might be more fun to highlight some ex-major leaguers dotting the rosters of other squads:
RHP Chris Oxspring (35) – Appeared in five games for Padres in 2005
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (30) – Effective Mariner in 2008-09 before getting hurt
1B Justin Huber (30) – Former top prospect hit .224, 2 HR in 161 AB
OF Chris Snelling (31) – Talented but never healthy, hit .244/.360/.400 in 225 AB
RHP Dan Serafini (39) – 15-16 with a 6.04 ERA from 1996-2007
RHP Brian Sweeney (39) – 3.38 in 73 appearances, the last coming in 2010
INF Kazuo Matsui (37) – Hit .267/.321/.380 in 7 seasons before returning home
RHP Jae Weong Seo (35) – 28-40, 4.60 ERA from 2002-2007
INF Edgar Gonzalez (34) – Adrian’s older brother, teammate on 2008-09 Padres
OF Karim Garcia (37) – Unknown to Pedro Martinez, hit 66 big-league homers
RHP Dicky Gonzalez (34) – Quad-A pitcher has spent last 5 years in Japan
INF Luis Figueroa (39) – 2 AB in 2001, 9 in 2006, 5 in 2007
INF Andy Gonzalez (31) – Hit .185 in 67 games for White Sox in 2008
LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (31) – 3.73 ERA, 345 strikeouts in 292 IP
Unfortunately, Colombia (Edgar Renteria and Jolbert Cabrera) and Panama (Ramiro Mendoza and Ruben Rivera) failed to make the final 16 for the WBC, so we’ll miss out on their vets.
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.