Dusty Baker questions Bronson Arroyo’s health after latest poor start

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Bronson Arroyo allowed five runs in six innings yesterday, giving up at least four runs for the six straight start as manager Dusty Baker wondered publicly whether the veteran right-hander is pitching hurt:

I don’t know. We have to discuss it and find out if indeed there is something wrong. Everybody’s a little banged up. We have to discuss it and hopefully he get a truthful answer from Bronson.

Arroyo had mono during spring training and dealt with a back injury earlier this season, but told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s healthy now. “I feel decent, but I’m just not getting it done.” Instead he spoke about how not being able to “lock teams down” and “giving up way too many homers” is “totally frustrating.”

Arroyo’s strikeout and walk rates are basically identical to last season, when he won 17 games with a 3.88 ERA and was given a three-year, $35 million extension at age 34. However, he’s allowed a league-high 30 homers in 127 innings after serving up a total of 29 homers in 216 innings last year and his average fastball velocity is just 86.8 miles per hour compared to 88.0 mph in 2010.

Maybe he’s pitching through some kind of injury or maybe he’s just a 34-year-old fly-ball pitcher who lost a little velocity that he didn’t really have to spare in the first place. Either way, the Reds can’t feel very good about the decision to sign him to an extension that pays $7 million in 2012, $6.5 million in 2013, and $15 million in deferred payments going all the way to 2021.

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.