Shane Victorino softens stance on demand for five-year deal

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One day after saying he wanted a five-year contract extension from the Phillies free agent-to-be Shane Victorino backtracked a bit, telling Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I made it seem like I want a five-year deal, but I’d love to stay.”

Most of all, Victorino said, he’d like to get a new contract figured out “now rather than later” and “that’s what the basis of this whole thing is.”

Jimmy Rollins talked about wanting a five-year deal from the Phillies before eventually accepting a three-year, $38 million offer and based on Victorino’s comments it wouldn’t be shocking to see him do something similar. Of course, Victorino is two years younger than Rollins and has also gotten better with age, whereas the shortstop peaked in his late-20s like most players.

Victorino revealed that his agent has yet to engage in formal negotiations with the Phillies, but “is going to reach out to them” soon in the hopes of getting something done before Opening Day. He noted Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand as comparable center fielders who signed five-year deals, with Hunter getting $90 million from the Angels and Rowand getting $60 million from the Giants.

Among all center fielders during the past three seasons Victorino ranked sixth in OPS (right behind Hunter) and fifth in Wins Above Replacement (right ahead of Hunter). Because the Phillies have so many other star players Victorino has probably been somewhat underrated, although that doesn’t necessarily mean signing him to a five-year deal that runs through his age-36 season would be a smart move.

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.