Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol imploded yesterday, walking two batters and hitting another to load the bases with no outs in the eighth inning attempting to hold on to a 4-2 lead. Manager Dale Sveum replaced Marmol with Hector Rondon, who allowed all three of Marmol’s runners to score and the Reds eventually went on to win 6-4. Marmol pitched again today, completing a perfect sixth inning.
Marmol’s shaky control is no secret. Entering the season, he was averaging six walks for every nine innings and has the highest walk rate among all relievers (minimum 400 innings) since he came into the league in 2006, his 15 percent well ahead of second-place Fernando Rodney and Kevin Gregg’s 11 percent. This season, he has walked as many as he has struck out (12) in 12.2 innings.
At some point, you would think the Cubs would keep Marmol’s Russian roulette approach away from high-leverage situations, but Sveum is not going to hide him. Via Bruce Miles:
“We’re really in no different situation than we were yesterday,” said manager Dale Sveum.” Obviously he had a bad outing and couldn’t throw strikes. But nothing’s changed in that fashion right now. Like I said he’s one of the seven guys, and he’s got to pitch, and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion. You can’t hide people. They have to pitch.”
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.