Don’t call it a “small-market” World Series matchup

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I’ve already seen a lot of grumbling from various media members on Twitter about how the Giants-Rangers matchup is going to be a ratings nightmare for FOX. That may turn out to be true, but it won’t be because the markets involved are small ones.

J.C. Bradbury of Sabernomics notes that Nielson ranks Dallas and San Francisco as the fifth- and sixth-largest television markets in the country, respectively.

For comparison, here’s the top 10:

1. New York
2. Los Angeles
3. Chicago
4. Philadelphia
5. Dallas
6. San Francisco
7. Boston
8. Atlanta
9. Washington, D.C.
10. Houston

No one would be predicting ratings nightmares for, say, a Phillies-Red Sox matchup, but based on market size that’s basically the same as Giants-Rangers. Instead, what the people worried about ratings are really saying is that the World Series matchup is devoid of East Coast teams and thus unlikely to attract significant interest from the No. 1 market, New York.

And that’s probably true, but the No. 5 and No. 6 markets are going to be glued to their television sets and my guess is that the No. 2 (Los Angeles) and No. 10 (Houston) markets will also be more likely to watch than usual. Plus, if you’re not a FOX television employee or Bud Selig should you really care about TV ratings?

Giants versus Rangers is an extremely compelling matchup featuring two of the elite pitchers in baseball, the potential MVP in the AL, and two franchises that are very hungry for a championship. You can be certain that hardcore baseball fans will be watching, and if some casual fans on the East Coast decide not to tune into the games … well, that’s their loss.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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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.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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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.