Link-O-Rama: Putz 'appears headed for surgery'

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* According to the New York Daily News,
J.J. Putz “hurt like hell” yesterday while allowing multiple runs for
the third straight appearance and “appears headed for surgery” to
remove bone spurs from his elbow.

From 2005-2008, Putz had a 2.63 ERA and 287/77 K/BB ratio in 256
innings while averaging 95 miles per hour with his fastball. This
season he has a 5.22 ERA and 19/19 K/BB ratio in 29 innings while
averaging 93.5 mph with his fastball.

* Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times wrote an interesting article
about the history of inside-the-park homers. Some of my favorite
tidbits: Jesse Burkett is the all-time leader with 55, Willie Wilson is
the modern-day leader with 13, Cy Young served up 54 to lead all
pitchers, and all but three of Wee Willie Keeler’s 33 career homers
were of the inside-the-park variety.

* If you thought the pitch counts from the NCAA tournament were nutty, check out some of the workloads from my home state’s high schoolers.

* Here’s the latest first-round draft projections from Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.

* Moneyball isn’t the only Michael Lewis best-seller currently being made into a movie.

* Randy Johnson may have 300 wins now, but even at 6-foot-10 he’s not the tallest pitcher in baseball.

* Fear not, Cubs fans: Milton Bradley will avoid the disabled list and instead spend the next three months being “day-to-day” with a strained calf.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.