Matt LaPorta out 4-6 months following hip surgery

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Things apparently aren’t going to be easy for Matt LaPorta in Cleveland.
Despite being one of the best hitting prospects in baseball and more or less MLB-ready at the age of 24, LaPorta began this season at Triple-A, played sparingly after being called up to Cleveland for the first time in May, and was sent back to the minors three weeks later when it became clear that manager Eric Wedge inexplicably had no use for him.
He remained in the minors until the Indians were completely out of contention, finally getting another shot in mid-August after batting his usual .299/.388/.530 with 42 extra-base hits in 93 games at Triple-A. The second time around Wedge at least gave him everyday playing time down the stretch and LaPorta batted .273 with six homers and 12 doubles in 139 at-bats.
Wedge was then fired as manager, making it all but certain that LaPorta would enter 2010 as a starter at either first base or an outfield corner. Except now he’s facing 4-6 months of recovery and rehabilitation after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery this morning and is no sure thing to be fully healthy by Opening Day, let alone the start of spring training.
If healthy there’s little doubt that LaPorta will be an impact hitter for the Indians, who acquired him from the Brewers as the centerpiece of the last year’s CC Sabathia trade. He’s hit .254/.308/.442 through 198 plate appearances in the majors after batting .291/.384/.557 in the minors, and the former first-round pick offers 30-homer power with strong plate discipline and a reasonable strikeout rate.
The good news is that he was probably destined to end up at first base long term anyway, so a slight decrease in speed or mobility following the surgery perhaps wouldn’t hurt him as much as some players. However, for a top prospect who’s been given something less than a clear path already and an Indians team in need of young players to step up in 2010, LaPorta going under the knife is a tough and unexpected break.

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.