Introducing Carlos Beltran: “RBI whore”

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Joel Sherman’s latest column is about the fury and backlash among Mets fans in the wake of Fred Wilpon’s comments about the team and its best players.  And he has some decent observations about how, if you’re a Mets player, you’re not likely to be all that motivated at the moment.

But there was one passage in there that really has me scratching my head. In it, he’s talking about how Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are best served to look out for number one right now (you know; that thing they’ve been criticized for allegedly doing for years already) because the team obviously doesn’t care about them.  The passage:

Since baseball is an individual game wrapped in a team concept, selfishness by Beltran and Reyes actually could be a good thing. I heard that with Wright and Ike Davis out of the lineup and Jason Bay still in freefall, Terry Collins actually went to Beltran recently and told the switch-hitter to get greedy in RBI situations. The Mets manager liberated Beltran to essentially become an RBI whore.

I’d be curious to hear who Sherman heard this from. Because really, I find it shocking that baseball people actually say things like “hey, get greedy in RBI situations.”  Why? Because baseball people realize that baseball is not basketball, and one does not defer to teammates in scoring situations in the interests of either strategy or team chemistry.

While bunting or situational hitting to get a runner into scoring position in the first place is understandable, if there is already a runner on second or third base (i.e. Sherman’s “RBI situations”) the hitter is always going to be “greedy” to drive him in. Indeed, I’d like to meet the player who would avoid doing such a thing and, rather, pass the RBI opportunity on to their teammate further down the order.  He’s probably a player who is suffering from some sort of mental deficit. Or at least an overdeveloped sense of purity:

“Hey, Beltran: be an RBI whore!” said Mr. Collins.

“No, I shant attempt to drive in this run. For I, good sir, am an RBI gentleman,” Mr. Beltran replied.

But whatever, if Sherman says someone told that Beltran, someone must have told that to Beltran.  And either way, the concept of the “RBI whore” has now been introduced into the baseball lexicon, and if you think for a moment that I won’t beat that baby into the ground in the morning recaps, well, you’re just not too familiar with my work.

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.