The scene: The Braves were down 5-1 in the ninth inning, but were staging a rally against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Justin Upton hit a three-run home run to bring the score to 5-4, and the Braves kept fighting. Freddie Freeman singled and Evan Gattis walked to put the winning run in scoring position for Chris Johnson. Johnson hit a 1-2 grounder in the hole, but shortstop Jimmy Rollins dove for it and snagged it with just enough room to spare. He got to his feet quickly and fired across to first base to narrowly get the force at first base. Johnson slid head-first into the bag in an attempt to keep the inning going, but he was a few inches behind. The Phillies won 5-4, pushing the Braves one game behind the Cardinals for the best record in the National League.
As Johnson returned to the dugout, he received some consolation pats from his teammates. Out of nowhere, first base coach Terry Pendleton came up to Johnson and grabbed him and shoved him. Johnson didn’t react with any surprise, so it appears as if he did something wrong — perhaps not running hard out of the box, or choosing to risk injury by diving head-first.
Here’s a .gif of the incident:
If and when we hear why this happened, we will update this post with more information.
Update (11:20 PM):
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.