By pursuing an ultimately unsuccessful trade for Carlos Lee the Dodgers made is obvious that they’re not happy with James Loney’s production at first base, so when Loney told Don Mattingly that he feels ready to break out offensively the manager was understandably skeptical:
He came into my office and he felt like he’s got it, so we’ll see. He feels good, so we’ll see. He’s confident. He got a couple hits tonight and we’ll leave it there. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’ve been through this the last four years with James, so we’ll see where it rolls.
In other words, talk is cheap when you’re a 28-year-old veteran at an offense-driven position with a .425 career slugging percentage.
Arash Markasi of ESPN Los Angeles paints a picture of Mattingly being more or less fed up with talk of Loney’s “confidence level” at the plate, noting that the manager is sick of “answering the same questions about Loney every year” and deadpanned “better ones” when asked what adjustments the first baseman needed to make.
At this point in his career Lee is hardly a sure-fire upgrade over even Loney, but the bigger point is that the Dodgers have been starting one of the least-productive first basemen in the league for five seasons now and finding someone who can top Loney’s measly .404 slugging percentage and .741 OPS during that time shouldn’t be very tough.
In the meantime Loney is making $6.4 million after being paid $4.9 million in 2011 and $3.1 million in 2010. For that $14.4 million the Dodgers have gotten 395 games of a .271 batting average, .329 on-base percentage, and .392 slugging percentage with a total of 24 homers in 1,479 plate appearances.
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.