Will Brad Lidge be trusted right away?

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Brad Lidge.jpgEntering Friday, it was assumed that Brad Lidge would be eased back into the closer’s role, sharing the responsibility with Ryan Madson. Well, now the Phillies are without their safety net.

Madson was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday afternoon after breaking his right toe. He told of Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he suffered the injury after kicking a metal folding chair in frustration following a blown save against the Giants on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m embarrassed, I let down my teammates,” Madson said. “I let down the
fans that want us all to be out there playing hard for them. I feel
terrible about that. That’s probably the worst part. It is the worst
part. I’ve done it before. Not kick stuff, but I’ve gotten upset before
and never broken a bone. It’s just one of those things. I learned from
it. I won’t do it again. I realize how much I’m letting my teammates
down and the fans.”

In turn, Lidge made his season debut in a non-save situation against the Mets on Friday night and was rudely welcomed by Rod Barajas, who slugged his second home run of the game. Lidge was pulled by manager Charlie Manuel after just 11 pitches and three hard-hit balls. According to Brooks Baseball, he averaged just under 92 mph on his fastball and topped out at 93 mph. It’s hard to take many positives from Friday’s performance if you are a Phillies fan, but Manuel tells Zolecki that he only wanted Lidge to get his feet wet.

“He still needs work,” Manuel said. “I was just putting him in for a
couple of hitters, really; I wanted to get J.C. Romero in the game for a
couple of hitters. But Lidge needs work.”

Doesn’t exactly sound like someone who is going to pitch the ninth inning right away.

Looking at the alternatives, Danys Baez has the most closer experience, though the Mets torched him for four runs on Friday night. For what it’s worth, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes that Jose Contreras is the backup to Lidge at this point. And with a 1.35 ERA and a 12/0 K/BB ratio over his first eight appearances this season, he certainly deserves to be.

As for Saturday, Manuel is probably hoping Roy Halladay can make it a moot point and all go all nine.
 

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.