Reid Brignac, 5th Infielder

By Robbie Knopf

On Thursday, with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 13th, the Rays took Sam Fuld out of the game and brought in Reid Brignac as a 5th fielder on the infielder. Chris Archer then forced a Robert Andino groundball to second base where Elliot Johnson may not have been there had Brignac not been on the field, before Archer struck outMatt Wieters for the second out. Brignac moved to shortstop before Archer got another strikeout, Nate McLouth, to escape the jam. In the top of the 14th, though, Brignac was overpowered by Tommy Hunter, striking out on a curveball out of the zone. The Rays wound up losing in the bottom of the inning.

Reid Brignac has been unable to hit at all at the big league level the past two seasons. His defense at shortstop is great, but especially on a weak-hitting team like the Rays, they can’t afford to have such a weak hitter in their lineup. Is he just going to be a defensive replacement, a fifth infielder if you will, and never establish himself as a starting player like the Rays thought always he would? Well, all he’ll be for the Rays the rest of September is that afterthought extra infielder.

Brignac entered a game as a substitute and played both left field (although he was playing on the infield) and shortstop. He became the 48th major player to do that since 1918, the 3rd this season, and the 5th since 2007. But he joins a distinct club in terms of playing both shortstop and left field in the same inning, being the 4th player to do so since 1918 and the first since 1995. Teams who have a substitute player play both left field and shortstop in the same game are now 1-3.

What does any of this mean? Reid Brignac’s claim to fame right now is the answer to a trivia question. He was once one of the Rays’ top prospects, and hope still isn’t completely lost for him. But for now, Brignac will be stuck riding the bench and coming in only as a defensive replacement for the rest of the season.