Link-O-Rama: Sore shoulder scratches Mazzaro

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* A’s rookie Vin Mazzaro has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start with shoulder tendinitis and Clayton Mortensen will be called up from Triple-A to take his place against the Mariners. “He’s had a little soreness in his arm and he hasn’t bounced back from start to start as much as we would have liked,” manager Bob Geren said.
Mazzaro got off to a great start in his first taste of the big leagues, but has mostly struggled with a 4-9 record, 5.32 ERA, and .319 opponents’ batting average in 17 outings. Between the majors and Triple-A he’s thrown 148 innings as a 22-year-old, so even if the shoulder problems prove minor the A’s might as well just shut him down for the season.
* Remember the Cardinals fan who fell out of the stands and faceplanted onto the field in Pittsburgh, only to be helped by Albert Pujols? Todd C. Frankel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a very well-done article about what turned out to be a pretty amazing story.
* Giants prospects David Mixon, Ryan Shaver, and Rafael Cova combined on a no-hitter yesterday at Single-A, which is particularly impressive in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League.
* At least the Nationals can say they won something this season after their rookie-ball team took home the Gulf Coast League championship yesterday.

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.