Milton Bradley may actually be wanted somewhere

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This part of the season usually gives us playoff races, but we really only have one in play right now.  In their absence, we’re sort of in a pre-postseason holding pattern, with no major news or action to keep us busy until the games start to truly matter again.

Thank goodness, then, for some early hot stove action, courtesy of the St. Petereburg Times.  They break down the Rays’ offseason roadmap this morning.  The upshot:  keep the rotation as it is, plan on Longoria, Upton and Zobrist being untouchable, but dangle anyone else and see if a good deal comes along.  Yes, anyone, including Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford and Carlos Peña, all of whom have probably peaked even if a lot of people haven’t noticed it yet.  The goal: get some bullpen help and address the problems at catcher and DH.  Oh, and this is fun:

In a perfect world, the Rays upgrade at catcher or DH without hurting themselves elsewhere. How do you do that? Finding the right match. For instance, the Rays were interested in Milton Bradley last off-season before he signed with the Cubs.

Bradley had a tumultuous season in Chicago — as he has elsewhere — and will probably be traded. If the Rays convince the Cubs that Burrell could excel by returning to the NL in the walk year of his contract, they might have a willing partner. Their 2010 salaries are a wash, but the Rays will have to figure out a way to negate Bradley’s $12 million salary in 2011.

Is it likely? Probably not, but that’s the sort of deal the Rays will probably be seeking.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mere days after he was suspended for being utter cancer to a ballclub, people are out lobbying for Milton Bradley.  And I’m not sure what’s crazier: Bradley himself, the idea to bring him to Tampa Bay, or the fact that I kinda like it.

I know it’s premature, but man you gotta love the hot stove season. Anything can happen and nothing is nuts.

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.