Play Clock

A pitch clock in Major League Baseball? No thanks.

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Andy Martino of the Daily News writes today about the possibility of a pitch clock — an actual clock counting down the seconds — being added to the game in order to speed things up. There is some support for it, he says, and runs down the pros and cons. He notes that Tom Werner — who spoke out on this issue the other day — prefers a pitch clock to other options.

One of those options, as we noted the other day, is simply enforcing Rule 8.04 and Rule 6.02, requiring the pitcher to throw the ball in a timely manner and requiring the batter to stay in the batters box between pitches. Martino talks to Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy about that, and McCarthy notes that the 12 seconds allowed in Rule 6.02 may be extreme. He may very well have a point there, and perhaps changing that rule to, like, 18 seconds and enforcing it is more realistic than 12, but at least it’s a rule with a pedigree and a place to start that does not require radical change.

But as we’ve noted a lot recently, baseball seems to be taken with the idea of adding unnecessary rules and unnecessary components of new rules these days. They felt the All-Star Game wasn’t holding people’s interest? They made it decide home field advantage in the World Series. They felt they had a problem with small market teams not being able to compete? Rather than give them money or draft picks, they put them in a lottery. They felt they had a problem with calls being missed? Rather than simply solve that with a straightforward replay system that would allow umpires to correct their own mistakes, they added an unnecessary manager’s challenge. They felt they had a problem with catchers getting hurt on plate collisions? They made a new rule rather than enforcing existing rules about when catchers can and cannot block the plate. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but baseball has been a big fan of 90 degree turns and long arcs these days.

Which is a shorter way of saying: get used to the idea a little box with a ticking down clock in the corner of your baseball broadcast, because that sort of thing seems way more in character with baseball’s problem-solving approach lately than, you know, actually solving the problem in the most efficient and least-intrusive possible manner.

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.