At a time when concussions have become the most significant injury on the minds of athletes, coaches, teams and — increasingly — the legal system, baseball will move today to consider abolishing home plate collisions.
As Derrick Goold reported this morning, this past weekend, team trainers and medical officials were told in a presentation here in Florida that 22 percent of all concussions in baseball are caused by collisions, most of which happen at home plate. Major League Baseball will hear from managers and executives today will meet to discuss a ban. Expected to speak, Goold notes, are Cardinals manager Mike Matheny who himself had his career end due to concussions, and Bruce Bochy, also a former catcher, and the manager of Buster Posey, who missed significant time in 2011 after breaking his leg in a home plate collision.
It’s a shame we see so many collisions anyway, as the rules of the game clearly state that a player without a ball is not allowed to block the plate. Likewise, nothing apart from odd tradition provides that a runner who is approaching a base where a fielder waits to tag him with the ball can or should violently prevent it.
While it’s uncertain if a rule change will be adopted, if one is, it will likely specifically provide that the baserunner is to (a) be given an avenue toward the plate and (b) is not allowed to target the catcher physically.
Here’s hoping Matheny and Bochy’s side of things prevails. Baseball is not a contact sport and shouldn’t be allowed to continue to be in this one, odd and dangerous area.
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.