An unfortunate incident kicked off the Angels’ season on Monday. Hitting coach Don Baylor suffered a fractured right femur while catching the first pitch from Vladimir Guerrero, who signed a one-day contract to officially end his career with the Angels, and had to be helped off the field.
He’s slated to undergo surgery Tuesday.
Guerrero seemed to initially think Baylor was kidding around after catching the pitch and laughing as he ran towards the plate, only to realize once he got there that Baylor was in some serious pain. Guerrero helped him to his feet, but it didn’t take and he needed extra assistance.
Baylor was working his first game as the Angels’ hitting coach, having been hired last October. He had previously served as the hitting coach in Seattle, Colorado and Arizona following managerial stints with the Rockies and Cubs. In 2003, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks plasma cells in bone marrow.
Baylor, 64, played 19 season in the majors in a career that ended in 1988. He won the 1979 AL MVP award as a member of the Angels after hitting .296/.371/.530 with 36 homers and a league-leading 139 RBI.
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.