Chris Nelson hit two home runs and drove in five, proving to be the difference as the Angels defeated the Yankees this afternoon. Nelson took Yankees starter Phil Hughes deep for a solo shot to right-center in the fourth inning, boosting the Angel lead to 3-1. In the eighth against lefty reliever Boone Logan with his team leading 4-1, Nelson put the proverbial nail in the coffin, hitting a grand slam to left field. The Yankees rallied in the bottom of the ninth, scoring three runs, but the added insurance provided by Nelson’s grand slam was the margin of victory as the Angels won 8-4.
The home runs were Nelson’s first and second of the season as he has had a rather bumpy road. Nelson initially started the season as the third baseman for the Rockies, but was quickly displaced by Nolan Arenado. The Rockies traded him to the Yankees on May 1 for a player to be named later. Nelson posted a paltry .521 OPS in ten games with the Yankees, so they put him on waivers. He was selected by the Angels on May 18. Prior to this afternoon, Nelson had compiled a .630 OPS with the Halos after spending time between June 17 and July 30 with Triple-A Salt Lake.
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.