It went largely unnoticed in the excitement of the Zack Greinke deal, but the Angels activated Vernon Wells from the disabled list prior to last night’s game against the Rays.
Wells had been out since May 21 after fracturing his right thumb while stealing a base. He went 8-for-26 (.308) with two home runs, a double and three RBI in seven games during his recent minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Wells didn’t play in last night’s game and will have to get used to sitting on the bench regularly. According to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Angels manager Mike Scioscia plans to use him in place of Kendrys Morales in the DH spot against left-handed pitching and in the outfield when when someone needs a day off.
Wells would naturally prefer to be in the lineup on an everyday basis, but he’s ready to accept to his new diminished role.
“At first, it was kind of hard,” Wells said. “Now — it just is what it is. You go out when you get a chance to play and approach the game like you did when you were a kid. Go out and have fun, try to help the team win.
“It’ll be different. Just as with anything as this game goes along, you make adjustments.”
Wells was batting .242/.282/.422 with six homers, 12 RBI through 38 games this season prior to the injury and has a .669 OPS in 671 plate appearances dating back to the start of last season. The 33-year-old is still owed $21 million in both 2013 and 2014.
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.