After giving up 11 runs and pitching just 10 innings in his last three starts, Barry Zito is apparently on his way out of the Giants rotation. The team has listed its Sunday starter as TBA.
Zito, whose seven-year, $126 million contract finally expires at season’s end, came up big in the Giants’ postseason run last year, going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA during the regular season and then 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in the playoffs for the World Series winners. However, he’s slipped to 4-8 with a 5.09 ERA and an ugly 1.68 WHIP this year.
Despite the poor record, Zito has been an effective pitcher more than half of the time this year. Check out his splits:
Home: 4-1, 2.66 ERA, 4 HR in 74 1/3 IP (12 starts)
Road: 0-7, 9.97 ERA, 8 HR in 37 IP (nine starts)
That includes his “road” start in last week’s doubleheader against the Reds counted as a home outing. The game, originally scheduled for Cincinnati, was played in San Francisco with the Reds as the home team.
Zito’s next turn was scheduled to come in Tampa Bay against a Rays team that has an average 36 points higher versus lefties than righties, so it makes a ton of sense to skip him, at the very least. However, with the Giants hoping to get Ryan Vogelsong back from the DL next week, it could be at least a semi-permanent trip to the pen. Guillermo Moscoso could be the choice to start in his place Sunday.
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.