OK, I’ve finally had a chance to see the video of the A.J. Pierzynski hit-by-pitch. It’s here, and as you’ll see, he was so totally not hit by the pitch. It bounced in the dirt and then hit home plate umpire Tim McClelland, but it never touched Pierzynski, who flopped like a French soccer player. A brief argument ensued, Romero was apparently distracted and the next hitter — Alexis Rios — hit a two-run homer breaking up the no-hitter.
Totally weak on Pierzynski’s part. It’s one thing to have the ump award you a base when the ball doesn’t really hit you — if it happens you put your head down and get down to first before he changes his mind — but Piersynski’s Bette Davis act, complete with the limp and the hobble down the baseline, was pretty damn weak.
But then what do you expect from Pierzynski? This is a guy who spiked Justin Morneau. This is a guy whose own manager said “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate
him a little less.” He’s not well-liked, and bush league theatrics like this are part of the reason.
Not that I’m complaining. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a big pro wrestling fan in the 1980s, and I think baseball needs more heels. Pierzynski is not a big enough star to pull that sort of thing off himself, but if someone huge like, oh, I dunno, Alex Rodriguez decided to become baseball’s version of Ric Flair I see no reason why Pierzynski couldn’t be its Tully Blanchard. Ozzie Guillen could be their J.J. Dillion. If they get a couple of guys to be Ole and Arn Anderson they could be baseball’s version of the Four Horsemen. They could start hitting baseball’s faces over the head with metal
chairs and everything.
And it’s not like he doesn’t have experience with this sort of thing.
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.
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.