Interesting story from Jane Lee of MLB.com about the Athletics’ Jeremy Barfield, who is busy making the transition from position player to pitcher.
Jeremy, the son of former major league outfielder Jesse Barfield, was informed about his move to the mound back in July. An eighth-round pick of Oakland in 2008, the 25-year-old posted a .261/.329/.399 batting line over parts of six seasons in the minors and didn’t appear likely to reach the majors as a position player. The A’s have always been intrigued by his arm strength from the left side, so they are hoping he can follow a similar path as Sean Doolittle, who has made the switch from oft-injured first base prospect to one of the most dominant relievers in the American League.
Barfield started out in the instructional league and recently spent some time in the Dominican Republic for winter ball. A’s director of player development Keith Lieppman understandably still considers him “raw” at this point in his development, but he’s topping out at 93 mph with his fastball and also throws a slider and split-finger.
Interestingly, Barfield learned his slider in part due to former All-Star Dontrelle Willis, whom he met while doing his other job of hanging up Christmas lights on houses in Arizona. Most of those houses are owned by major league players. Barfield uses his second job as a motivational tool.
“All those houses make me want to work harder,” Barfield said, “just so I can live there. All I want is a chance.”
Really cool story. Barfield is very active on Twitter, so be sure to follow his journey there.
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.