Ned Yost and his flexible thumb

Ned Yost is taking spring training very seriously

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Pete Grathoff’s article in the Kansas City Star is mostly about how the Royals are giving infielders Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella some reps in the outfield to increase their versatility, but buried within that is this little tidbit and quote from manager Ned Yost:

This was going to happen earlier, but the Royals were just playing too well. …

“It’s not an experiment, but we want guys to be versatile, and those guys, we think, can handle it,” Yost said before Thursday’s 12-2 loss to the Mariners. “I was waiting until we lost a game before I started experimenting a little bit, but what the hell, we’d better just go ahead and start doing it.”

He means a spring training game, just to be clear. As in, Yost didn’t want to start giving players action at new positions while the team was on a spring training winning streak in early March. Kansas City is an MLB-best 11-1 this spring, but based on how seriously they’re apparently taking Cactus League wins and losses Royals fans might be getting set up for disappointment once the games actually count.

If you’re curious, last year’s best spring training record belonged to the Blue Jays at 24-7 and they went 73-89 in the regular season. And two years ago the Royals–with Yost as their manager–had the best spring training winning percentage and they went 71-91.

Might as well do whatever you want in spring training games, because the wins and losses don’t really matter.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a designated 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)
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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)
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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.