Indians manager Terry Francona is enjoying having 42-year-old Jason Giambi in camp. In fact, so much so that Giambi will very likely make the Indians’ roster when camp breaks at the end of the month. The Plain Dealer’s Bud Shaw has the details:
He sounds almost that cheery every time Giambi’s name is mentioned. The way Francona talks about him, Giambi would have to accidentally get run over by a Vespa peloton not to make the Indians’ roster out of spring training.
“He has a presence about him,” Francona said when asked about Giambi’s at-bats in camp. “He doesn’t swing at bad pitches ever. He’ll take a walk. He still has his bat speed. I’ve been very impressed.
Francona noted that Giambi won’t face left-handed pitching during the season, even though Giambi posted an .848 OPS against them in 30 plate appearances with the Colorado Rockies last season. Giambi has yet to record a hit in 11 spring training at-bats but has drawn three walks.
Before the Rockies hired Walt Weiss to be their new manager, there were rumors that Giambi would retire as a player to run the show in Colorado. For now, the lefty is happy to continue his playing career in Cleveland.
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.