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Nolan Ryan could be reuniting with the Houston Astros

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Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston reports that there’s mutual interest between Nolan Ryan and the Houston Astros in having Ryan return to the Astros in some executive capacity or another.

What that role would be is unclear, and the sides have not even discussed the matter yet. But Berman quotes Ryan as being amenable to coming back to Houston, where his son Reid is president of business operations. Astros owner Jim Crane likewise says that he would like to bring Nolan Ryan back if he could. He said he’s hoping to talk to Ryan soon.

One interesting comment from Crane involves seeing how a pairing would work “with the business-side and the baseball-side.” While it’s hard to tell exactly what led to Ryan leaving the Rangers, there were frequent reports in recent years that it involved clashes with Jon Daniels’ people on the baseball side of things. Speculation existed — and was often colorfully vented — that Daniels’ sabermetrcially-oriented team clashed with an older school Ryan.

If there is any truth to that dynamic — and again, it could just be some journalists’ axe-grinding with Daniels — it would be hard to see how Ryan would fit on the baseball operations side of things in Houston, as Jeff Luhnow has assembled a young and analytic-heavy baseball operations team of his own. Of course, given that Reid Ryan is on the business side, it would make sense that Nolan Ryan would be on that side of things as well, working with or for his son.

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.