Sports Illustrated looks at the Twitter/MLB story

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As part of his “Media Power Rankings” column at SI.com Richard Deitsch followed up on the Twitter/MLB story from last month:

NBCSports.com baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman reported that Major League Baseball had cracked down on the Twitter usage of its MLB.com writers, ordering them to stop tweeting non-baseball topics. … SI.com confirmed independently that MLB.com writers were told by superiors to keep their social media musings to baseball only.



On Friday SI.com called MLB vice president of public relations Patrick Courtney to get clarification about what its writers can and cannot do on Twitter. Asked if MLB writers had been specifically asked not to tweet non-baseball related items or notes, Courtney said he was not aware of that, though he did note that MLB sent an email in April to all its non-playing employees outlining its social media policy.



Courtney said MLB encourages its writers to be individuals in the social media space and that the organization wants its writers to gain a following among fans. There is no arguing that MLB Advanced Media has been at the forefront of social media among sports entities …That’s why this chilling (my words) either directly or indirectly is disappointing. MLB should trust its writers, and the people who read them. Part of the fun of Twitter is learning about the personalities of those behind the 140 characters.

At the time MLB inexplicably reacted as if I was making the whole story up (before eventually softening their stance a bit), so I’m glad to see that Deitsch uncovered similar information from his sources. I also agree with him that a big part of my Twitter enjoyment comes from getting to know the personalities of people I follow beyond the persona that comes across in their day-to-day job, which is why MLB.com writers being “encouraged” to cease non-baseball posts was so disappointing.

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.