The Orioles want Alexi Casilla to give up switch-hitting

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Infielder Alexi Casilla is hitting .200/.222/.257 in 35 at-bats for the Orioles this season after coming in at .241/.282/.321 in 299 at-bats for the Twins last year. Hence, the Orioles think it’s time for him to try something new. In this case, they believe the natural right-handed hitter should give up switch-hitting.

The interesting thing about this is that Casilla doesn’t have pronounced splits. In fact, he has a higher OPS as a left-handed hitter in his career:

As a left-handed hitter: .246/.307/.339, 9 HR, 98 RBI in 1,094 at-bats
As a right-handed hitter: .258/.297/.322. 2 HR, 49 RBI in 516 at-bats

(That doesn’t count his five at-bats as a right-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers. I’m assuming those came versus knuckleballers.)

The Orioles, though, have declined to use Casilla against right-handers this season, even with Brian Roberts out and Ryan Flaherty struggling mightily as a replacement second baseman. Casilla has started 10 games, nine of which have come versus left-handers.

According to MASN”s Roch Kubatko, Casilla is going along with the idea. He intends to bat left-handed against righties for now, but he’s been taking batting practice right-handed against righties and it sounds like he’ll do it in games once he’s more comfortable.

Perhaps the Orioles’ hope is that Casilla, instead of trying to stay sharp from both sides of the plate and splitting his focus, will improve if he concentrates solely on hitting right-handed. It probably can’t hurt, since Casilla is very much in danger of getting bumped from the major leagues the way things are going now.

Athletics designate Fernando Rodney

Fernando Rodney
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Veteran reliever Fernando Rodney has been designated for assignment, the Athletics announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the club selected the contract of lefty reliever Wei-Chung Wang from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Rodney, 42, struggled to find his footing at the start of his second season with the A’s. He appeared in 17 games this spring, but harbored an unsightly 9.42 ERA during the span of just 14 1/3 innings, flanked by an equally disheartening 7.5 BB/9 against his 8.8 SO/9. While the right-hander isn’t far removed from his last productive campaign in the majors — as evidenced by the cumulative 3.36 ERA and 25 saves he delivered for the Twins and A’s in 2018 — the club evidently felt ready to take things in a different direction this season.

It’s still unclear whether this will mark the end of Rodney’s time in Major League Baseball; if so, he’ll finish a 17-year track in the majors with three All-Star designations, 908 career strikeouts, and 325 career saves (best among all active pitchers and 18th-best overall).

Without Rodney, the Athletics will look to former Brewers reliever Wang to bolster a bullpen that currently ranks fifth-best in the American League. The 27-year-old lefty hasn’t stepped on a major-league mound since 2017, but recently impressed in Triple-A after inking a minors contract with the team in February. He holds a 3.75 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, and 8.3 SO/9 through his first 24 innings with the organization.