Brian Roberts missed the final four months of last season due to aggravating a concussion suffered in 2010 and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the second baseman is not expected to attend the Orioles’ “fan fest” event as he continues to struggle with post-concussion symptoms 16 months after the initial injury.
Roberts was scheduled to attend the event and the Orioles have sold tickets to get his autograph, prompting executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette to say:
I hope he goes to the autograph session. I don’t really know any reason he can’t show up to sign autographs for 10-year-old kids. I am not aware of anything that would prohibit him from doing that.
Duquette is new to the job and Roberts has been in Baltimore for the past 11 seasons, so that’s not exactly a great way for their relationship to begin. Roberts, like Justin Morneau and Jason Bay and several other players in recent years, is trying to fight his way back from a maddeningly unpredictable injury that can ruin careers, so while the physical act of signing some autographs may not seem like much of an effort the fact is that concussions can make seemingly innocuous activities a major struggle.
And whatever the case, publicly calling out the longest-tenured member of the team within your first couple months of taking the job seems like a mistake. The bigger concern, of course, is that if Roberts can’t sign autographs in mid-January what are the odds he’ll be able to play baseball games in March?
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.