Carlos Gomez threw down the gauntlet for rookie outfielder Lorenzo Cain on Tuesday, telling Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he is the best center fielder on the team.
“They know and I know that I can do the job every day,” Gomez said.
“I’m the best centerfielder on the team. But Lorenzo is doing a really
good job for the last two weeks and it’s not fair for me to come off the
DL and take his chance. I understand.”
“He is a really good player, but I think I’m still the man on this team.”
Brewers manager Ken Macha didn’t sound too pleased Gomez’s remarks:
“I’ll just say that’s interesting,” Macha said. “You can take that any way you’d like. I’m just saying it’s interesting.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Cain was thought of as the center fielder of the future, however a knee injury limited him to just 60 games in 2009. The 24-year-old outfielder has rebounded in a big way this season, batting .317/.402/.432 with three homers, 27 RBI and 26 stolen bases between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. Given the chance at regular playing time after Gomez suffered a concussion, Cain has a .314/.368/.431 batting line over his first 51 major league at-bats.
Though Gomez was out of line to voice his opinion in such a public manner, he isn’t completely wrong. He rates among the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old outfielder has yet to progress with the bat, hitting just .228/.285/.348 with five home runs and 22 RBI during his first season with the Brewers. Also, his walk rate has actually dropped from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 5.8 percent this season, while his strikeout rate has increased from 22.9 percent in 2009 to 25.6 percent. His glove isn’t enough to compensate for that.
Face it, the Brewers are going nowhere this season, so they have little to lose by continuing to run Cain out there every day. He deserves it with the way he’s been playing. But if Gomez keeps yapping, look for him to be a trade chip in what figures to be an eventual offseason in Milwaukee.
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.