Every umpire has a reputation, but some teams aren’t content with simply knowing if a guy is a pitchers’ ump or a hitters’ ump. They’re getting detailed with it
Ron Washington flips the pages of his three-ring notebook, filled
inside info on the other team’s pitchers and hitters. The Texas manager gets to the back of the black binder, reaches into
pocket and pulls out another scouting report–on that night’s home plate
It’s a color-coded computer printout showing his strike zone–how he
to call balls and strikes–and whether he usually gives the pitcher a
the ball sails just off the corner of the plate. In this ump’s case, the
on the edges are too inconsistent to be predictable.
“We do have their tendencies in the dugout on the wall. The name of the
umpire and his tendencies, what they call and what part of the zone they
strikes,” Washington said.
Any bit of information helps, I suppose, but at some point you have to wonder if hitters are getting too much information. I mean, between knowing what the pitcher’s tendencies are, how the defense is playing you, what sign you have from the third base coach and then actually, you know, watching the pitch as it comes in, whether the ump likes to call outside breaking balls strikes on 3-2 counts approaches overload, doesn’t it?
Either way, I like the fact that Bobby Cox and the Braves don’t compile these things. Not that it wouldn’t help — God knows the Braves could use help with the zone — but because if they did it, they’d probably all read the same: “Has a short fuse; likes to eject the manager.” “Gets angry easy; prone to ejecting the manager . . .”
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.