Fresh off batting practice and wearing a Bees hoodie and hat, Reid Brignac stood inside the concourse of New Britain Stadium.
It’s here the former Major League player made it clear why, after 14 years in professional baseball (now in his 15th), he’s in the Atlantic League, and more specifically, with the Bees.
He just wants an opportunity.
“If you’re going to play independent ball, this is the place to be,” Brignac said. “It’s highly scouted. All you can ask for as a player is for scouts to watch you and get back to their front office and then get out of here as quick as you can. I’m really looking forward to swinging the bat better and getting consistent playing time.”
Brignac spent parts of nine seasons in the big leagues, first with the Tampa Bay Rays and then moving on to the Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves. He was with the Houston Astros organization last year, hitting .251 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI, and spent this past spring training with the Washington Nationals.
Despite his experience, a slow start at the plate during the spring resulted in his release. A call from the Bees ensued and Brignac made is way to New Britain.
“[Bees Manager] Wally [Backman] and [assistant general manager] Paul [Herrmann] gave me a call and said, ‘We’d love to have you come out and try to get you back to affiliated ball,’” Brignac said. “So I decided to make the move. I had a good year offensively last year and I’m just trying to build off that and try to get hot early and have a good feel at the plate.”
Over the course of his career, there isn’t much the 32-year-old hasn’t seen in baseball and that experience is something he brings to the Bees, which despite having 13 other players who have MLB experience, have a number of younger players.
Throughout his stops, Brignac has gotten a chance to play alongside some of the best players of their era.
“I played with the best players and Hall of Famers and those guys were all open to talk and answer questions,” Brignac said. “Even guys I played against, like Big Papi [David Ortiz], would always come up to me and talk to me. I would say when I got to the big leagues, Carl Crawford was the main guy that took me under his wing and I spent every day working with him and learning from him about how to be a pro.”
Brignac is more than willing to do the same. And those younger players have taken notice, asking questions and trying to learn about a game that constantly evolves.
“It’s cool to see just how normal they are,” Bees outfielder Conor Bierfeldt said of the former MLB players on New Britain’s roster. “Reid spent nine years in the big leagues and we just went golfing [last week] and played 18 [holes] and it was just like playing with a kid I had been playing with for the last few years. It’s nice to pick their brains.”
Even at 32, Brignac believes he has plenty to contribute to a team, both on and off the field. He just needed an opportunity to do so.
“It’s baseball and we’re going to go out as a team and try to win every game as do the best we can,” Brignac said.”