White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon’s game complaining about home plate umpire Joe West, whom he feels holds a longtime grudge against the team that led to the Royals getting favorable calls.
Harrelson talked about the umpiring for literally innings at a time and his broadcast partner Frank Thomas, who was subbing for a vacationing Steve Stone, frequently chimed in to agree.
After every close pitch that was called a ball for a White Sox pitcher or a strike for a Royals pitcher, Harrelson launched into another monologue about the umpires conspiring against the White Sox. He frequently used words like “disgusting” and “disgraceful” to describe the situation, and called it a “travesty” that West was even allowed to work White Sox games after his incident with Mark Buehrle earlier this season.
At one point Thomas noted that “back when I was playing” the catcher and pitcher would intentionally get “crossed up” on a pitch and let it hit the umpire, which seemed to be mostly a joke because a) Thomas laughed, b) “back when I was playing” was all of two years ago, and c) that rarely, if ever, actually happens. But then Harrelson liked the sound of Thomas’ “idea” and suggested the White Sox actually do it to West.
Finally, in the 10th inning Jason Kendall broke a 2-2 tie with a walk-off single, winning the game and the series for the Royals and dropping the White Sox to 2-4 on their road trip, at which point the following exchange took place:
Harrelson: This is absolutely … [five-second pause] … this is absolutely not right.
Thomas: This really sucks.
As a Twins fan I quite enjoyed the whole broadcast, but I can’t imagine many other people liking three straight hours of complaining about umpires and I can’t imagine MLB liking announcers publicly calling for teams to intentionally injure umpires.
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.