It was easy to watch Thursday night’s Red Sox-Yankees tilt and come to the conclusion that Derek Jeter is done. Hobbling around on one leg at shortstop, he nearly got himself seriously injured again, courtesy of a cheap takeout slide from Mike Napoli. Any other major league shortstop would have been there and gone already by the time Napoli got to second base. Jeter, unable to make his body work like it used to, ended up head over heels on the play.
Besides the extreme lack of range at shortstop, Jeter also isn’t really hitting. He’s at .200/.297/.273 through 15 games this year. That’s the lesser concern, though.
Personally, I don’t see Jeter as done as much as he’s simply hurt. In trying to come back from the broken ankle he suffered in the postseason last year, he sustained quad and calf injuries. It seems obvious that he’s not going to be 100 percent at any point during this year. And while the Yankees are likely already wondering whether they’ll be able to eke out another year with him at shortstop in 2014, it’s this season that they need to worry about now.
I don’t think there’s any question that Jeter is a liability with the way he’s playing right now, but so is the alternative on the Yankees’ roster; Eduardo Nunez can run circles around Jeter, but he’s terribly mistake prone at short and doesn’t make up for it with a lot of offense. If Jayson Nix were healthy, he’d be the team’s best option at short right now. Alas, he’s out for the season. The Yankees do have a defense-first shortstop in Alberto Gonzalez in Triple-A, but he hit .183/.240/.220 in 191 at-bats for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It’d be worth calling him up anyway. As loathe as they may be to take Jeter out for a defensive replacement when they have the lead, it’s something they absolutely need to do.
For now, though, they might as well keep Jeter at short, if only for four or five games per week. At least he can still handle the balls hit right to him. They should probably move him down to the seventh or eighth spot in the order, but it seems doubtful they’ll go there unless he volunteers. We all know Joe Girardi doesn’t want to embarrass the future Hall of Famer and Yankees legend, but the situation does call for some managing. Taking Jeter out late in games is pretty close to a must right now.
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.