The AJC’s David O’Brien has a nice article up today on Braves rookie sensation Jose Constanza, who apparently goes by “Georgie” in the Atlanta clubhouse. And just what sort of article would it be without the traditional quote about how the ace never likes to face one of those pesky singles hitters:
“For me, personally, I’d rather face a guy like Barry Bonds than someone like [Constanza],” said pitcher Tim Hudson. “I want somebody up there that’s trying to hit homers; you have a tendency to get those guys to swing and miss. Constanza, I mean he’s pesky, he’s going to put the ball in play. A ball on the ground, more than half the time it’s going to be a hit.”
And, yeah, maybe he has a point. But boy did he use a bad example in this case. Bonds went 11-for-27 with five homers and just one strikeout against Hudson, good for a .407/.500/1.000 line. Maybe he would have been better off saying Troy Glaus, who hit .175 with one homer in 57 at-bats against Hudson, or Alfonso Soriano, who has hit .154 with three homers in 39 at-bats.
Or maybe he should have just passed entirely, because it sure looks like Hudson has handed singles hitters extremely well in his career. David Eckstein hit .242 in 66 at-bats, Darin Erstad came in at .243 in 70 at-bats, Ichiro is at .215 in 65 at-bats and Cristian Guzman was at .206 in 63 at-bats. Those are all of the “singles hitters” that Hudson has faced 60 or more times. One has to scroll down to Omar Vizquel (.314 in 35 at-bats) and Orlando Palmeiro (.382 in 34 at-bats) to find any singles hitters having fared well against Hudson.
Certainly, none have owned him like Ryan Howard (.298, 6 HR in 47 AB), Albert Pujols (.448 in 29 AB), Adam Dunn (355, 4 HR in 31 AB) and Carlos Delgado (.310, 7 HR in 58 AB).
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.