Before we move along to the next chapter of this running drama, let’s review a timeline of events:
- Jack Clark, a player for the Giants, Cardinals, Red Sox, Padres and Yankees over an 18-year major league career, claims on his CBS Sports 920 radio show in St. Louis that Albert Pujols’ former trainer used to inject the slugger with steroids. Clark says the trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, offered up this info while Mihlfeld and Clark were both on staff with the Dodgers in the late 1990s.
- Mihlfeld denies Clark’s story in a statement to HBT: “I haven’t even talked to Jack Clark in close to 10 years. His statements are simply not true. I have known Albert Pujols since he was 18 years old and he would never use illegal drugs in any way. I would bet my life on it and probably drop dead on the spot if I found out he has. … Albert and myself have been accused of doing something we didn’t do.”
- Pujols threatens legal action against Clark and the CBS Sports 920 ownership, insideSTL Enterprises. Clark and his partner Kevin Slaten are fired from the radio station, which had only been on air a week.
- Clark stands by his claim that Mihlfeld acknowledged injecting Pujols with steroids.
Slaten is now planning to sue insideSTL, writes Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Slaten said he got the termination call from insideSTL president Tim McKernan around midnight.
“I said ‘What?,”’ Slaten said. “He said, ‘We have to do what’s in the best interest of the company.’ I said, ‘You tell me how firing me is in the best interest of the company when you and (WGNU boss Burt Kaufman) said (earlier) that I did nothing wrong.”
Slaten said McKernan told him, “‘I know that, but everybody associated with the show has to go.
“I said, ‘Did you fire the producer? Did you fire yourself, you’re the one who paired us, did you fire yourself?’
There’s plenty more inside-radio stuff in that article. Clark is also upset about the sudden firing:
“I’m still trying to get my knife out of my back from the radio station, the way that was handled,” Clark told the Post-Dispatch. “They did not allow us to go ahead and talk about it, talk to callers. They made us lie and say the phones weren’t working.”
McKernan and insideSTL issued this short written statement on Saturday afternoon: “insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and all related companies would like to make clear that Jack Clark is no longer associated with the company. Mr. Clark was never employed by insideSTL but rather was an independent contractor. Any opinions, views or statements made by him strictly reflect his own personal views and do not reflect the views of insideSTL. insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and any related companies have never asserted and do not assert that Albert Pujols has ever used steroids or any other type of performing enhancing drug.”
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.