Sammy Sosa walked disgruntledly out of Wrigley Field in the middle of his final game with the Cubs back in October 2004. He was fined $87,400 for going AWOL and the Cubs traded him before the start of the 2005 season to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston Jr., Mike Fontenot and Dave Crouthers.
The relationship between Sosa and the Cubs has been strained since that incident — and the PED stuff hasn’t helped — but it might be time to let bygones be bygones. Here’s new team chairman Tom Ricketts, speaking in front of fans and reporters Saturday at the annual Cubs Convention in downtown Chicago:
“When we got here, there wasn’t much communication and we just really haven’t focused on it,” said Ricketts. “But maybe it’s an issue we pick up this year and see what we can do about it.”
“With Sammy, it’s awkward. I think over time there will be a good solution for all this stuff. But obviously we saw what happened with the Hall of Fame voting this year. I don’t know. It would be nice to put this chapter to rest and just welcome back all the guys who were from that era who were suspected of doing whatever.”
Those quotes come courtesy of CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney. Sosa hit .284/.358/.569 with 545 home runs and 1,414 RBI in his 13-year stay with the Cubs. He owns several prominent franchise records.
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.