HBT LiveBlog: David Ortiz wins the Home Run Derby

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10:41: Nearly two and a half hours later, David Ortiz is your 2010 Home Run Derby champion. He defeated Hanley Ramirez 11-5 in the final round. I’m pretty proud to say he was my choice all along.

By the way, I’ll be back for next year’s slam dunk contest. Should be fun.

10:26 PM: David Ortiz sets the bar pretty high, slugging 11 homers in the final round. It’s all on Hanley right now.

10:18 PM: The real star of the night, according to Joe Morgan: David Ortiz’s shoes.

10:13 PM: Yep, Hart does nada. We’ll see Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz in the finals.

10:08 PM: Hanley Ramirez cranked 12 bombs, tying him with David Ortiz with 21 total. We might have a homer-off here, which is exactly what this competition needs. Bonus time. To be honest, I kinda hope Hart is a big ol’ dud here.

9:55 PM: Through two rounds, Cabrera has 12 homers. Hart already has 13 going into the second round, so M-Cab is out.

By the way, the beat reporters care more about Will Ferrell. (picture courtesy of Adam McCalvy of MLB.com)

9:46 PM: My pick is still in the mix. David Ortiz clubbed 13 homers in the second round, many of them prodigious blasts, to give him 21 total. Miguel Cabrera is next.

9:34 PM: 80 minutes later, here are your semi-finalists: Cabrera (7), Ortiz (8), Ramirez (9) and Hart (13). Phew. Fortunately, many of you are still alive in the contest.

9:21 PM: Jorge Arangure of ESPN with the line of the night:

This is a perfect event for Hanley Ramirez since
he doesn’t have to run anything out
.”

Seriously, you can’t top that. Don’t even try.

By the way, Hanley hit nine homers. We’ll see him in the next round.

9:13 PM: Bobby V on announcing: “Everyday it gets tougher.”

9:12 PM: My pick, David Ortiz, just finished with eight home runs. Dude was parched, so he had to take a break to get a drink. I’m getting the feeling that the ESPN booth would love it if Ortiz won, so I’m starting to feel dirty about my selection.

8:56 PM: Holliday started off slow, but rallied to hit five bombs, passing Swisher. He topped out around 497 feet. Impressive.

8:48 PM: Swisher finishes with a total of four home runs. Of course, Alex Rodriguez had to upstage him in the booth. What a jerk!

8:39 PM: Corey Hart has finally put some life into this thing, setting the all-time record with 13 home runs in the first round. Okay, I’m lying, but if you know these things, I have pity on you.

On a side note, the more I hear “back, back, back,” it sounds like a quack.

8:28 PM: Vernon Wells finishes with two home runs, one of them with the help of a fan. Hey, at least this thing is moving fast.

8:22 PM: Chris Young finishes with one home run. That isn’t going to get it done. Maybe he should have brought Juan Gutierrez with him.

8:17 PM: Our contest is officially closed. Good luck to all who entered!

8:10 PM: Kruk favors Cano. Bobby Valentine likes “Jose” Ortiz. Interesting. Dark horse.

8:06 PM: Berman, didn’t you know that Jeff Francoeur leads the league in SAR (Smiles Above Replacement)?

8:03 PM: David Ortiz was just grooving to “Soul Sister.” Is it too late to change my vote?

7:58 PM: See, here I was prepared to put the show on mute when Berman came on, but now I need to start a few minutes early with Train in the house.

7:53 PM: We’re about to get underway, so here is how this thing works. The derby will consist of three rounds. In the first, each player will have 10 outs to hit pile up as many homers as they can. The top four move ahead to the semi-finals. The two finalists are determined by the first and second round scores combined. Get all that? Okay, let’s watch some taters.

7:28 PM: We’ve already had enough people jumping on their soapboxes about silly
exhibitions over the past week (I’m all LeBron-ed out), so I’ll
spare you my thoughts on the Home Run Derby. Sure, it goes on for
entirely too long, but I almost always watch.

The Home Run Derby gets
underway at around 8pm ET, but check back here every now and again for
my random observations on the event. It won’t be every minute, but I will chime in from time-to-time. Also, feel free to add some banter in the
comments section.

And remember, there’s still some time to enter HBT’s Home Run Derby
contest
! As Drew announced Sunday, the winner gets to write a guest post on HBT.
You’ll have the opportunity to write about anything you want, as long
it’s loosely baseball-related. Just be sure to read the fine print. I’m
pretty sure we reserve to right to keep your soul for the rest of
eternity. No biggie.

With that out of the way, here are our competitors:

NL: Corey
Hart (MIL), Matt Holliday (STL), Hanley Ramirez (FLA), Chris Young
(ARI)

AL: Miguel Cabrera (DET), David Ortiz (BOS), Nick Swisher
(NYY), Vernon Wells (TOR)

My pick: Since John Kruk already picked Robinson Cano, I’m going
with Al Kaline. Okay, if you really want to know, I have a good feeling about David Ortiz in that ballpark.

Let’s hope this thing ends before Craig wants the keys back to the blog.

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.