Those new, stronger batting helmets are now mandatory

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The press release is out and with the games starting this weekend, new batting helmets will be on every head:

– Beginning with the start of this week’s Spring Training exhibition games, Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc. … and its new S100® Pro Comp™ batting helmet will become the standard throughout Major League Baseball®. The mandatory implementation of Rawlings’ technologically-advanced batting helmet is outlined in the 5-year collective bargaining agreement signed in November 2011 by MLB and the MLB Players Association™. Rawlings is the Official Batting Helmet of Major League Baseball.

In non-press release speak, those are updated versions of the carbon fiber helmets which were introduced a few years ago and were worn by players like David Wright, who were coming back from concussions. But there’s a big difference: they are much smaller than they used to be, back when people called them “Great Gazoo” helmets or whatever. Even last year, when they weren’t yet mandatory, the helmets were smaller.

Ken Belson of the New York Times has an in-depth story on the helmets. How they’re better, how they’re made and all of that.

Good for baseball for trying to stay ahead of the game in player safety.

Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord

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John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.

The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.

Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.

The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.