If you forgot about Wily Mo Pena, you’re not alone. The slugger washed out of the majors after the 2008 season, and making a brief return in 2011. Since then, Pena has been spending his time in Japan, slugging home run over home run in the Japan Pacific League.
To date, Pena has 21 home runs, 52 RBI, and a .245/.357/.520 slash line this season, his first with the Orix Buffaloes. He was invited to the Japanese All-Star Game and absolutely demolished the first pitch from pitcher Shintaro Fujinami. Look at how far this thing went:
(Tip of the cap to Deadspin)
Wily Mo Pena highlights are scant, as he left the majors right before online baseball highlights became a regular part of life. The few that are available show that monster home runs were not exactly a rarity for him.
Over 1,845 career plate appearances in the major leagues, Pena belted 84 home runs, but that was about the extent of his offensive value. He had a meager .250 batting average and .303 on-base percentage along with 559 strikeouts. But, boy, was he fun to watch.
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.