Mets imagine Sheets on their DL in 2010

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Thumbnail image for ben sheets.jpgThe New York Post is reporting that the Mets are “keeping an eye” on free agent pitcher Ben Sheets.

At first, I wasn’t sure what level of interest that implied, but it turns out the Mets are, indeed considering Sheets as a viable option for 2010.

A major-league source confirmed that Sheets, 31, would be among a group of second-tier, relatively low-cost starting pitchers the Mets will consider this offseason while continuing their pursuit of top free-agent starter John Lackey.

The story says the Mets are also considering Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis and Randy Wolf, all safer, healthier, but less-sexy options.

On the positive side of things, Sheets didn’t give up a single run in 2009 (maybe that’s what the Mets noticed). On the negative side, he wasn’t able to pitch a single inning either after having surgery in February on a tendon in his forearm.

We all know about Ben Sheets (stats). When he’s healthy, he’s very good. But he is known for his struggles in that department. Since entering the league in 2001, he has thrown more than 200 innings four times, but not once since 2004.

Sheets, a four-time All-Star, looks like a good gamble on a short-term contract. But given the injury problems the Mets had in 2009, this seems like a matchup made for the doctor’s waiting room. Then again, I can’t blame the Mets too much for imagining what a nice addition Sheets would make to their disabled list next season. After all, an injured Sheets is still better than Oliver Perez.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

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.