Despite shaky outing in minor league game, Roy Halladay expects to be ready for season

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Roy Halladay was back on the mound this afternoon for the first time since he was pulled from his start last Sunday after one inning due to a stomach virus. And the results weren’t all that encouraging.

In a minor league game against the Blue Jays, Halladay retired just seven out of the 18 batters he faced while allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman. Another batter reached on an error. Of the 82 pitches he threw, he got just three swings and misses. He reached 90 mph just once and mostly sat in the 87-89 mph range. Still, Halladay brushed it off by saying that he was happy with how his arm felt and that he wasn’t all that concerned with the results.

While Halladay isn’t going to overreact to a start against minor league competition, he did acknowledge that he’s in the process of making some adjustments since he isn’t throwing as hard as he once did. This includes making some changes to the grip on his trademark cutter. Via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

“I don’t know of any guys who were throwing harder as they got older,” Halladay said after making a less than impressive minor-league start Saturday. “You’re always trying to evolve with the game and your body.

“To me, it’s a competition, not a boxing match. It’s not a strength-vs.-strength. It’s a chess match. It’s competition of the mind, and execution, and being smarter, and being more prepared. To me, that’s what I’ve enjoyed. That’s what I’ve liked about baseball.

“You look at a Jamie Moyer. He could compete with the best of them. He would’ve gotten knocked out in the first round if he was a boxer. It’s just a different mentality. It’s not about the strength and throwing harder and overpowering guys. It’s about outsmarting and being more prepared and being more consistent. That to me is a challenge.”

Halladay’s final spring tuneup will be next Thursday. While questions about his diminished stuff figure to linger well into the regular season, he expects to be ready to go against the Braves on April 3.

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.