Pedro Alvarez took grounders at first base yesterday, perhaps the sign of a new chapter in his tenure with the Pirates. Alvarez was recently removed from his regular role at third base after committing a league-leading 24 errors. All-Star Josh Harrison is expected to get the lion’s share of the playing time at the hot corner going forward.
Alvarez seems at peace with the transition, though. He had a discussion with manager Clint Hurdle and was philosophical about it in a discussion with the media about it later. Via MLB.com’s Tom Singer and Stephen Pianovich:
“It’s just another opportunity to help this team any way possible,” Alvarez said Saturday prior to another cram session at first. “I think it shows the faith and the desire and the want that the organization has in me for me to help in any way possible. Moving over, taking ground balls at first … gives Hurdle and this team some options to be able to use me any way possible. I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Along with the poor defense, Alvarez’s power at the plate has declined. A year after leading the league in home runs with 36, he has only 15 along with 49 RBI and a pedestrian .234/.320/.400 slash line.
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.