As has been the case with every single positive PED test involving a notable player over the past several years, I have no doubt that in the coming days we’ll see some variation of the following from a baseball writer:
Baseball wants you to think its drug problems are gone, but they’re not. With this latest story we now know that it’s as if it were 1998 all over again. Everyone is cheating and juicing and if you think that what you’re seeing on the field is genuine, think again. Don’t let Bud Selig and Michael Weiner tell you that they have faith in the drug testing program. It’s all p.r. and it’s all bunk. We’re still in the Steroid Era.
I embellish, but only a little. We’ve all seen that sort of thing before and I assure you we’ll see it again.
But before you buy into that, go read Michael S. Schmidt’s report of this Miami business in the New York Times. In addition to the things we already know, Schmidt reports that the reason this all came to light in the first place was because of an MLB investigation into an employee of Melky Cabrera’s agents in the wake of his positive test last year.
The upshot: MLB caught a cheating player with testing. Its investigations arm got involved and sniffed out the baloney in his story. They dug deeper and made connections to past information they had on PED use but which was unactionable at the time. They brought in law enforcement to assist in the investigation. The heat from that investigation led to this information coming out, and now they’re pledging to investigate further, with possible discipline to follow.
Some people may look at all of this as evidence of some epidemic and Major League Baseball being asleep at the switch. I look at it as a pretty damn proactive and robust testing and investigative program doing the job it was set up to do. Maybe that doesn’t make baseball 100% clean, but nothing in society is. Heck, not even all sports is. When was the last time the NFL, NBA or NHL was seen as being on top of things with respect to performance enhancing drugs as Major League Baseball is? The most famous player in the Super Bowl just got linked to a banned PED today. We’ll hear little of this compared to the A-Rod business over the next week, I assure you.
Yet I expect people will still take their shots at MLB over all of this. They’re so used to doing it, it’s hard to stop.
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.