Mets first baseman Ike Davis attempted to bunt for a base hit in the bottom of the second inning with one out and the bases empty and his team down 1-0. He was facing an infield shift, so his thought was to drop a bunt down the third base line for an easy infield single, but instead, he bunted right back to Braves starter Kris Medlen for the 1-3 putout. The crowd of nearly 25,000 at Citi Field booed Davis as he walked back to the dugout.
Davis is used to the booing, though, and defended his decision to bunt when speaking to the media after the game. Via ESPN’s Adam Rubin:
Power hitters don’t normally bunt, but Davis said he plans to try doing it more this again.
“I mean, I get out a lot anyway, so might as well give it a try,” Davis said, with a wry smile. “If I get it down in the right spot, it’s a hit. I’m definitely gonna try to do that more often.”
“Ike’s just trying to get on base,” Collins said. “And I will tell you, he’s gonna see [the shift] again, and if you wanna bunt, go ahead and bunt.”
Davis has had an awful season. Tonight’s 1-for-4 performance actually bumped his batting average up to .178 but his OPS is still a disappointing .531. The only players in baseball with a worse OPS (min. 200 plate appearances) are Brendan Ryan of the Mariners (.521) and teammate Ruben Tejada (.529).
Davis was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after going 0-for-3 on June 9. In 21 games under 51s manager Wally Backman, Davis hit .293 with a 1.091 OPS. He was recalled after going 3-for-4 on July 3. Between his return to the Majors on July 5 and prior to today’s game, Davis posted a .257/.381/.286 line. The on-base percentage is nice, but a .286 slugging percentage is far below what is expected even from a below-average first baseman (the average first baseman in the NL has slugged .415). Bunting isn’t going to help that.
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.