Don Baylor is the Rockies’ hitting coach. He used to be their manager. He wants to manage again:
“The last interview that I had was the one with the Phillies when Charlie Manuel took the job. So that’s a long time ago. If it’s in the cards again for me, we’ll see . . . Managing a team in the World Series is what motivates me. I played on teams that made it, and been a coach on a couple, but managing your own World Series team is that big giant carrot that you’re trying to obtain. The past is in the books, and I’m trying to focus on things in front of me. I enjoy what I do now very much and really like being here. But I know I can still manage.”
I can’t say that I’ve thought of Baylor as a managerial candidate for some time, but that’s really just because he hasn’t been named as a candidate by anyone, as he says, since 2004. There’s a certain buzz and a political vibe around the kinds of guys who get multiple chances at manager jobs. Maybe that’s media-created, maybe it’s reflective of real politicking behind the scenes. I’m really not sure. I am sure, however, that Baylor has never given off that vibe as someone who’s out there networking his butt off to get another gig.
It’s possible that his cancer diagnosis several years ago — which he beat, by the way — has contributed to this. It would be unfair if that was the case, yes, but baseball wouldn’t be the first industry to be loathe to hire people with some medical history for high-pressure leadership positions.
And of course, more important than anything else is the fact that — let’s face it — no one ever accused Baylor of being a managerial genius. He had his supporters and he had his detractors like so many, but no one ever thought “we HAVE to get Don Baylor for the next job!” If you’re not networked out the yingyang, you probably need to be that guy to be considered for the top job.
Baylor is perceived as a good hitting coach. It sounds like that’s the job he’ll likely top out at going forward.
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.