Et tu, Rickey?

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Nothing I hate more than when an old timer talks about how people don’t play the game as well/right/hard/whatever now than they did back in the day. I didn’t figure Rickey Henderson would be one of those guys — I figured he’d be one of those “Rickey was ahead of his time, and the game is finally catching up to Rickey” people — but I guess not:

• How has the game changed since you played?

RH: “The game has changed a lot. Modern technology, computers. They know about all the players on every team. To me the game has changed too much because we share so much information with the kids that they’re losing the ability to trust themselves. That’s what’s making the game not as well-played as in my era.”

I think a Rickey Henderson in-his-prime would dominate today just like he did in the 80s and early 90s because he’s an inner-circle, all-time talent. But I think it’s kinda hogwash to say that the game is not as well-played today as it was in his era.  Defense is much better. Conditioning is much better. Scouting is much better. Training techniques and video makes everyone better. Everything. Just ask this guy.

Indeed, it seems like baseball is the only sport where people tend to default to the “it was better in the past” mindset. No one does this with track and field, swimming, basketball, football or anything else. Yet we are to assume that baseball is the one athletic pursuit where people aren’t better overall than they used to be? Bah.

Oh well, still a good interview because he’s Rickey after all and I’ll never not love Rickey.

(link via BTF)

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.