Hiroki Kuroda had a less-than-ideal 2013 debut.
The right-hander surrendered a Red Sox run in the top of the first inning then took a Shane Victorino line drive off his right fingertips to lead off the second. Kuroda hit the next batter, Jackie Bradley Jr. and walked Jacoby Ellsbury on four pitches. He then plunked Daniel Nava with the bases loaded.
Kuroda was pulled after facing 11 Boston hitters and allowing two runs on a walk and four hits. It was by far the shortest start of his major league career.
The Victorino line drive probably caused some numbness in his right fingers, but Kuroda’s struggles began in the first. The Yankees desperately need the 38-year-old from Osaka, Japan to eat innings this season and he was unable to do that on Wednesday night against the rival Red Sox. Boston won the game 7-4.
UPDATE, 8:47 PM ET: MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that Kuroda has been diagnosed with a bruised right middle finger. He will undergo precautionary X-rays at Yankee Stadium.
UPDATE, 10:51 PM ET: The X-rays were negative, according to Hoch. Kuroda is day-to-day.
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.