Matt Diaz is in The Best Shape of His Life

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Maybe. It’s possible Matt Diaz was in better shape years ago with the Royals or something, but this story has all the hallmarks of a BSOHL story: struggling player with a weakening hold on a major league job + big weight loss and optimistic talk. Take it away Dave O’Brien of the AJC:

After seeing his slugging percentage plummet more than 100 points in 2011 and home-run total drop to zero – he hit 20 in the previous two seasons combined — Diaz decided to change his physique. Not by getting bigger in his upper body, but by slimming down.

Through one week of spring-training batting practice, first against coaches and in the past two days against pitchers, the 33-year-old outfielder said he feels a difference. “Really good, free and easy on the swing,” Diaz said. “I had some power when I was hitting at the college I’ve been hitting at [during the offseason], but then when I came out here, hitting nice baseballs, I was like, ‘Wow, I do have power.’”

This follows a bulk-up with the Pirates which, if I remember correctly, was met with equally optimistic talk about how it would improve his game.  It’s a lesser-known subgenre of BSOHL involving guys who go back and forth and claim improved feeling based on contradictory approaches to conditioning. I call it the “BSOHL carousel.”

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.