On August 18, a Sunday night game nationally broadcast on ESPN, Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster attempted to hit Yankees third baseman and embattled drama magnet Alex Rodriguez with a series of fastballs. On the first pitch, the right-hander threw it behind the slugger’s legs, the next two pitches weren’t inside enough, and the fourth landed on A-Rod’s bicep just above his elbow.
In the aftermath, Dempster received a five-game suspension from Major League Baseball. The controversy revived the debate on the need for players to take justice into their own hands and which offenses were legitimate.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz does not think his teammate handled the situation appropriately. Via CSN New England:
“I didn’t like it,” Ortiz told USA Today. “I don’t think it was the right thing to do.
“But we don’t all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy.
“It’s not that I didn’t think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone’s on their own. But we’ve got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees’ team at that moment. You saw how the game ended up. CC [Sabathia] was throwing 91 [mph] and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You’re talking about a good team that you can’t wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.”
The Yankees entered tonight’s game against the Rays on a five-game winning streak, which started on that fateful night on August 18. Though the Yankees are in fourth place, they are only six games behind the first place Red Sox in the AL East and 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card in the American League.
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.