Dave Niehaus: 1935-2010

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Sad news out of the Pacific Northwest tonight.

According to Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald, longtime Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus passed away from a heart attack this afternoon at the age of 75.

Niehaus was awarded the job of play-by-play announcer before Seattle’s inaugural season in 1977 and remained in that role through the 2010 season.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as 2008’s Ford C. Frick Award recipient and hearts are undoubtedly saddened this evening across the state of Washington.

Niehaus began his broadcasting career in 1957 on the Armed Forces Network.  He was serving in the military and had just graduated from Indiana University.

He broke into baseball in 1969 as Dick Enberg’s partner on the California Angels’ broadcast and eventually began contributing on calls for the Los Angeles Rams and UCLA Bruins.  In 1977, the Mariners wisely recruited Niehaus and made him the voice of the new franchise.  He became the epitome of a fixture, calling nearly every Mariners game that has ever been played.

The M’s haven’t experienced a whole lot of winning seasons, so Niehaus’ calls aren’t broadcast regularly in highlight clips and on baseball documentaries.  But he was an immensely talented announcer and he helped educate one of baseball’s most intelligent fan bases for the last 33 years.

Video-gamers in the 90s might also recognize his voice from Nintendo 64’s Ken Griffey Jr. Slugfest.

When the Mariners beat the Yankees in the franchise’s first ALDS appearance back in 1995, Niehaus shared in the joy:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If you wanted to call someone “Mr. Mariner,” it would probably be Niehaus.  He will be missed.

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.