While Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris have chimed in, none of this “Clay Buchholz is cheating” talk is coming from Blue Jays players or management. And it probably won’t. The Blue Jays don’t want to go accusing someone of cheating and then have their own dirty laundry aired.
The Red Sox, for instance, still seem to think the Blue Jays are stealing signs in Rogers Centre games. This was something that first came up a couple of years ago and eventually spurred an ESPN Outside the Lines investigation that found four players willing to say they’ve witnessed someone in the center-field stands relaying signs to hitters. Orioles starter Jason Hammel said last year that he thought something shady was going on.
Of course, the 2013 Red Sox, more than any other team in baseball, know exactly what was going on with the Blue Jays in 2011-12, given that they now employ Toronto’s former manager, John Farrell, and third-base coach, Brian Butterfield. And while those two haven’t spoken up about anything like sign stealing, they’ve continued to employ the method the Red Sox first used in 2011 of having the catcher give multiple signs to the pitcher with no one on base. It’s something they’d have absolutely no reason to do unless they thought someone in the field of view — such as behind the center-field wall — was watching.
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.