UPDATE: Phillies, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. agree to four-year contract extension

3 Comments

UPDATE: According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, the Phillies and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. have agreed to a four-year contract extension. He’ll remain in the fold through 2015.

7:12 PM, Friday: A team source tells Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer that a contract extension for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is “done.”

10:15 AM, Friday: Earlier this week manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies agreed to a two-year contract extension and now Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that the team is “virtually done” and “lacking just the finishing touches” on an extension with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

After playing eight seasons in the majors as a light-hitting outfielder Amaro spent 10 years as the Phillies’ assistant GM, working as the right-hand man for both Ed Wade and Pat Gillick. He took over for the retiring Gillick as GM just days after the team won the World Series in 2008 and has pulled the trigger on some incredibly bold moves in two-and-a-half years on the job.

Under his watch the Phillies have built a potentially historic rotation around holdovers Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton, as Amaro twice acquired Cliff Lee and also traded for Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. He’s also made some questionable moves, like signing Ryan Howard to a $125 million extension long before it was necessary, but Amaro has built the Phillies into a powerhouse capable of extending their streak of four straight playoff appearances for years to come.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

Getty Images
3 Comments

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.