The winner of the Home Run Derby isn’t even an All-Star. But he’s here and his presence was validated: Yoenis Cespedes has won the 2013 Home Run Derby.
Cespedes hit 9 homers in the final round — his last traveling 455 feet — beating out Bryce Harper who had eight. Cespedes had 32 in all to Harper’s 24. In the team competition the the AL beat the NL 53 to 50. Cespedes did not have to use up all ten of his allotted outs in the second round. If he had, the AL — and Cespedes — likely would have had higher totals.
Harper was nothing if not consistent, hitting eight homers in each of the three rounds, but Cespedes seemed to have an entirely different gear tonight. His final round homers finding parts of the park that no competitor had found all night.
And so we have survived another Home Run Derby. They are fun for a while, then get a little tedious. But it was nice for once to see a competitor seem to grow stronger as the night went on rather than have the final round be somewhat anti-climactic. Oh, and it ended with Cespedes being awarded a brand new Chevy Silverado. So that’s nice for him.
That’s it from Citi Field for today. It’s been a long day of meet-and-greets, promotional events and weird exhibitions. Tomorrow we get the reason we’re all here: the All-Star Game. Keep a window open with HardballTalk and NBCSports.com all day, as we’ll be hitting you with our best shots from morning until late in the night.
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.