Remembering those left off the ballot

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Craig did his thing, running down the first-timers included on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. But how about those players left off. That’s always the first thing I look at when the ballot comes out. So let’s take a trip down memory lane with those not worthy of being included with possible immortals like Lenny Harris and Kirk Rueter.

Wilson Alvarez (14 years) – The first pitcher to take the mound for the expansion Devil Rays in 1998. Health problems prevented Alvarez from ever truly living up to expectations, but he ended his career with a 102-92 record and a 3.96 ERA. His ERA+ is 112, compared to 98 for Rueter. Rueter, on the other hand, won 28 more games while pitching nearly 150 additional innings.

Cal Eldred (14 years) – A big-time prospect with the Brewers in the early 1990s, Eldred broke down not long after throwing a league-high 258 innings as a 25-year-old in 1993. Overcoming several surgeries and pitching with a screw in his elbow, he eventually resurfaced with the Cardinals and posted a 3.41 ERA in 171 1/3 innings out of the pen between 2003-2005.

Jeffrey Hammonds (13 years) – The fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft, Hammonds was a big-time underachiever until hitting .335/.395/.529 with 20 homers and 106 RBI for the Rockies in 2000. His lone years in Coors Field earned him a three-year, $21 million contract from the Brewers, and he promptly fell flat on his face. He his just 22 homers in five years after his career season.

Greg Myers (18 years) – The long-time backup catcher pulled off one of the surprises of the decade when ht hit .307/.374/.502 with 15 homers in 329 at-bats with the Blue Jays as a 37-year-old in 2003. Sadly, he hurt his ankle in April 2004 and missed the rest of the season. He had just 18 at-bats that year and 12 in 2005 before calling it a career. For what it’s worth, he had 27 more RBI than Harris in almost 900 fewer career at-bats.

Jose Offerman (15 years) – Briefly one of the game’s highest-paid players, Offerman was actually very good in the first year of the big four-year, $26 million contract he signed with the Red Sox, making his second All-Star team in 1999. However, things went south quickly from there. Never a very good middle infielder, he lost all of his value once his legs started to go. He was still playing in the Atlantic League as late as 2007, but his role in a bench-clearing brawl in which he charged the pitcher with his bat after being hit by a pitch effectively ended his career.

Paul Quantrill (14 years) – Quantrill led or tied for his league lead in appearances each season from 2001-04, and he was among his league’s most valuable relievers in the first three of them. The fourth didn’t go so well, as he racked up a 4.72 ERA in 95 1/3 innings for Joe Torre’s Yankees. When he was at his best, Quantrill got grounder after grounder and never walked anyone. In his All-Star campaign in 2001, he issued just five unintentional walks in 83 innings.

Rey Sanchez (15 years) – Long one of the game’s best defensive shortstop and weakest hitters, Sanchez played for nine teams in 15 seasons and batted .272/.308/.334. He’s one of eight players in the expansion era to come in with at least 5,000 plate appearances and an OPS+ under 70, joining Neifi Perez, Tim Foli, Ed Brinkman, Alfredo Griffin, Sandy Alomar, Mark Belanger and Ozzie Guillen.

Ugueth Urbina (11 years) – Having fanned 97 batters in 79 2/3 innings in 2005, Urbina had plenty left in his arm before his attempted murder conviction in Venezuela ended his career. He saved 237 games and went to two All-Star games in 11 seasons.

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.