Joe Torre managed the Yankees from 1996 to 2007, coinciding with the vast majority of shortstop Derek Jeter’s playing career. If anyone knows the guy, it’s Torre. Jeter is coming off of an injury-plagued 2013 season, logging a meager 73 plate appearances in 17 games. Because of his age (39) and questionable ability to stay healthy going forward, many solutions to the Jeter “problem” have been suggested, such as using him as a full-time DH, moving him to third base in the event Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the 2014 season, or signing a full-time shortstop and reducing Jeter’s role.
As Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes, Torre thinks Jeter would take a reduced role if he was convinced it would help the team.
But Joe Torre said he thinks if Jeter feels he’s not playing up to his standards, he might consider a reduced part.
Jeter “will play baseball as long as he’s benefitting the team, whatever the role,” Torre said, speaking outside the 11th anniversary gala for the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation in Chelsea.
Jeter led the league in hits as recently as 2012, logging 216 of them in 740 plate appearances over 159 games at the age of 38. Although the skepticism over his health is warranted, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was able to regain his previous form. Jeter is a free agent after the 2014 season, which may signal his retirement.
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.