Surprisingly little has been made of Mark Teixeira facing his old team in the ALCS, perhaps because he had stints with the Braves and Angels in between going from the Rangers to the Yankees.
Selected by Texas with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 draft, Teixeira hit .283/.368/.533 with 153 homers and 499 RBIs in 693 games for the Rangers. In the middle of his fifth season in Texas he reportedly turned down an eight-year, $140 million extension offer, at which point the Rangers traded Teixeira to the Braves on July 31, 2007 for a five-prospect package that included Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones.
At the time Saltalamacchia was viewed as the centerpiece of the Rangers’ haul, while Feliz and Andrus were high-upside teenagers at Single-A. Four years later Feliz is one of the best closers in baseball and may win the Rookie of the Year award, Andrus is an elite defensive shortstop and the Rangers’ leadoff man … and Saltalamacchia is trying to resurrect his injury wrecked career with the Red Sox.
Teixeira played well for the Braves, hitting .295/.395/.548 with 37 homers and 134 RBIs in 157 games spread over 1.5 seasons before they traded him to the Angels in July of 2008 for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek. He played 54 games for the Angels, batting .358/.449/.632 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs, and then hit the open market as a free agent and signed a $180 million deal with the Yankees.
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.