Michael Cuddyer’s attempt to self-treat a wart on his foot during the offseason proved unsuccessful, so now he’s expected to miss 7-14 days after leaving Twins camp and returning to Minnesota to have it removed by a doctor.
Aside from it probably being pretty embarrassing for Cuddyer to have his foot wart make headlines, this makes me wonder why teams don’t keep better track of players’ health during the offseason.
Cuddyer will make $10.5 million this season, yet his employers didn’t know he was trying to self-treat a wart on his foot that will now require leaving spring training and missing multiple weeks of camp? Or how about his teammate Francisco Liriano being lax with his offseason conditioning program? Shouldn’t his employers, who’re paying him $4.3 million this year, have known about his lack of workouts before Liriano showed up to spring training and quickly experienced shoulder soreness when he finally started to throw?
This isn’t meant as a criticism of the Twins, as they’re hardly alone in these types of situations and Cuddyer’s wart problem (combined with Liriano’s arm soreness last month) is simply what got me thinking about the issue. But really, if a company is spending $100 million per year on a relatively small group of employees whose performance is entirely dependent on their health and physical status shouldn’t there be constant updates and room to intervene before the season is a month away?
Taking it to an extreme, how much would it cost to have a trainer visit each player on the 40-man roster in person once every six weeks during the offseason? Even if it would cost, say, $200,000, that’s half of the MLB minimum salary and about .002 percent of the average team’s payroll. Or am I nuts?
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.