Pedroia seeks second opinion on foot; talks to Michael Jordan for advice

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Seeking a second opinion on Dustin Pedroia’s sore left foot, the Red Sox sent scans to Dr. Jonathan Deland and Dr. Robert Anderson, according Quinn Roberts of MLB.com.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that the team expected feedback either Tuesday or Wednesday, so we should hear an update on his status relatively quickly. This afternoon, Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com reported that surgery for Pedroia remains a possibility.

Looking to ease his second baseman’s mind, Francona even dialed up his old pal Michael Jordan, who he managed with the Birmingham Barons in 1994. Jordan also broke the navicular bone in his left foot while playing with the Bulls during the 1985-1986 season.

Francona described the nature of the conversation during an appearance on the Dale & Holley show on WEEI in Boston this morning.

“I don’t call Michael very much just because I know how much people bug
him. But because of Pedey, I knew that Michael would enjoy talking to
him, and he did. He was almost fatherly in his advice. He was like, “I
went through this, it’s tough, you got to listen.” Pedey was all ears
and that was good. When guys like Michael Jordan talk, people are apt to
listen more.”

Speaking of Jordan, I wasn’t able to watch the latest “30 for 30” documentary about his time with the Barons — too busy with baseball coverage both here and on Rotoworld last night — but I’m very interested to do so. 

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.