Bob Nightengale of USA Today confirms Jon Heyman’s report that Nelson Cruz will accept a 50-game suspension rather than appeal:
I think “devastating” is a bit strong. He’s not the only guy on that team and the Rangers are a mere half game out of the wild card, but yes, it does have a negative impact on Cruz’s team.
The calculus for Cruz is understandable: if he takes his 50 games now he gets it all behind him. Which is kinda important for him personally, as he is a free agent after the season is over and having looming discipline would hurt his market. Of course, being a PED guy may hurt his market too — ask Melky Cabrera — but the lost time out of the gate is obviously a big hurdle for any team who might want to sign Cruz.
Of course, as Nightengale notes, this may hurt him with the Rangers too. They likely view this as a blow to the team and view him as acting in self-serving way by appealing. Bringing him back may not sit well with a decent chunk of the fan base. For Cruz there really weren’t any good choices here. If he appeals he’s a drug cheat denying reality and is hurting his value going forward. If he doesn’t he is seen as a bad teammate.
Gotta pick one, and Cruz picked one that I imagine most of us — and most players — in his situation would have picked.
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.