Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy was a part-owner of the Orioles

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You probably already heard the news that author Tom Clancy died Tuesday. For his sake, I hope that he had gotten to see Montana.

I wasn’t a huge Clancy fan. I read exactly one book of his mostly because I don’t go in for military/espionage/thriller stuff, generally speaking.  But any HBT reader who has been around for a while knows that I love the living heck out of the movie version of “The Hunt for Red October.” I don’t have any idea how faithful the movie is to the book, but I don’t care. The movie is awesome and it doesn’t exist if not for Clancy, so my hat will always be off to the guy. So give me a ping, Vasili. One ping only, please, in his honor.

But Clancy had a baseball connection too. He was a minority owner of the Orioles. He came in to the group back when Peter Angelos purchased the team in 1993. And it wasn’t some symbolic share. Before his divorce he was a 24 percent stakeholder. He also held the title of Orioles’ vice chairman of community projects and public affairs. The team issued a statement on his passing earlier today:

For decades, Tom Clancy entertained millions with his novels and enjoyed producing no fewer than seventeen best-sellers. He was an extraordinary storyteller who had an ability to keep readers on the edge of their seats. His passion for the military was evident in his efforts to ensure that the men and women who serve our country were properly recognized for their service and commitment.

While he achieved international acclaim as a celebrated author, Tom, a proud Baltimorean, was a devoted Marylander, a treasured friend, and a valued partner and advisor in the Orioles ownership group. He was a regular presence at Oriole Park and enjoyed talking about baseball, the ballclub and its operations.

We are deeply saddened by Tom’s passing. He will be missed but long remembered.

On behalf of the Orioles, we extend our sympathies to his family.

Same here. On a day Clancy sails into history.

[singing]

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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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.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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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.