There is a good bit of acrimony between the Cardinals and the Brewers. Brewers fans think Albert Pujols and that whole operation in St. Louis is lousy, two-faced and low-rent (adjectives which actually filled my inbox from Brewers fans in recent weeks). The Cardinals think much the same about the Brewers. Or at least Nyjer Morgan. And you know that La Russa doesn’t do much to diminish any “us-against-the-world” feelings that simmer in the minds of his players.
It appeared yesterday that a new front had opened in that little war, with the Brewers accusing the Cardinals of jerking around their family and friends with respect to seating in Busch Stadium. It seems the Phillies families had all been located behind home plate in the NLDS, but the Brewers families were seated in multiple places around the park, causing some degree of consternation among the Brewers.
As of last night everyone in an official capacity was claiming that it was all a misunderstanding. The Cardinals explained that the Brewers families were in multiple suites, which was exactly what had been done for the Dodgers in the 2009 playoffs and the Padres and Tigers in 2006. Brewers traveling secretary Dan Larrea said “[t]here was some concern initially among the players about the situation, but it worked out.”
I suppose there will still be some beefing about this from Brewers fans who I have learned in recent weeks are really awesome at holding grudges. In this case, however, a grudge seems inappropriate. And really, given Mark Kotsay in center field, it was not even the most significant instance of someone connected to the Brewers being in a poor location yesterday.
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.