The Cubs trailed the Brewers by one run in the ninth inning yesterday and they got their leadoff man — Marlon Byrd — on base. And then, with a powerful hitter who had already stroked three doubles on the day at the plate, Byrd was … caught stealing.
Strange play to say the least. Who steals in that situation? So, naturally, the Chicago sporting press asked Byrd about it in the clubhouse after the game:
“Done,” he said. “Beat it. I respect you guys all the time, and we lose a close game like that and that’s the question you ask? Forget it. Beat it.”
What did he expect to be asked? Allmans vs. Skynyrd?
To be fair to Byrd, he was in a tough spot. Before he told everyone to beat it he reluctantly and obliquely confirmed that he was given the steal sign by third base coach Ivan DeJesus. For his part, manager Mike Quade said that he didn’t put the steal sign on — or at least didn’t think he did — which could be a way of also suggesting that it was DeJesus who gave the sign. It’s entirely possible that DeJesus screwed up and neither his boss nor the player wanted to throw him under the bus. Whatever the case, Byrd is a standup guy who probably would have said so if he was out there freelancing.
All of which, by the way, makes me wonder how this plays out if Mark Cuban’s vision of the future comes to pass and there aren’t any reporters in the clubhouse asking uncomfortable questions. I assume nothing is said by team-controlled media, in which case all of us on the outside are left to assume that either Quade made a boneheaded move or Byrd was trying to spark something, however misguided it was. Then later, Cuban or someone in his position posts something about how everyone’s out to get his guys.
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.