Potent quotables: 'Hang close'

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“It’s not been an easy road. Our goal is to hang
close. We want to catch them. We’ve got some pretty tough guys out
there in the clubhouse and we want to catch [the Tigers]. You have to
grind it out and keep playing.”




– Twins manager Ron Gardenhire after the Twins moved to within 2 1/2 games of the idle Tigers
with a 7-0 victory over the White Sox on Monday night. The Twins hope
to stick close with a four-game series against the AL Central leaders
next week.



“I’ve got two more starts, and that’s all I can concern myself with is
one pitch, one inning at a time. I know that sounds cliche … It’s been a tough year, and
I haven’t been able to get anything going. … I’m looking forward to
have two more starts and if you want to use the word ‘salvage,’ then
that probably fits well.”




– Kyle Lohse would love to join his teammates on the postseason roster.
He allowed three runs over six innings as the Cardinals moved their
magic number to three with a 7-3 win over the Astros on Monday night.




“We have a lot of the base we need for a winning team, a playoff team,
a World Series team. For years to come, we have great
players and great camaraderie. I think this team is on an upswing.”




– Barry Zito, as the Giants moved to within four games of the idle-Rockies
in the Wild Card race with a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday
night. The playoffs are starting to long like a longshot, but at the
very least, the Giants have clinched their first non-losing season
since 2004.




“It seems like we’ve been on sort of a gradual downward spiral since we
made it to the World Series (in 2005), and I think you can’t just point
to one thing. There are several
factors involved in that. If there was ever an environment for sweeping
reform or change, this would be it.”




– Lance Berkman, who finds his team on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Giants. Third base coach Dave Clark was promoted to interim manager following the dismissal of Cecil Cooper on Monday.

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.