Dexter Fowler wasn’t gritty enough to be the Rockies’ center fielder

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All this time I thought they played baseball games and then I read this from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post and find out that — Jiminy Christmas! — they’re wrestling in gutters!

That’s how Kiszla puts it, anyway, after acknowledging that the Rockies have a hole in center field now that they traded away Dexter Fowler. But never fear: it’s fighting time:

The Rockies, however, are better off without Fowler.

My choice to play center: Corey Dickerson. You want the Rockies to bring a dirt-bag attitude that can wrestle with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the gutter, then Dickerson is your center fielder.

Kiszla can be forgiven, however, in that he’s merely following Walt Weiss’ lead:

“In our sport, more than any other sport, the ability to compete and grind and play with grit is extremely important, because we have to play at the highest level virtually every day for seven months. There’s no other sport like that,” Weiss said Monday. “The ability to compete through difficult circumstances and still believe you can play up here even when you get beat up by the game … The self doubt, even though it does creep in, if you can deal with that and still succeed, it’s the X factor.”

I have no doubt that attitude is a big factor in dealing with a long grind of a season. But if Dickerson couldn’t hit the cover off the ball — which he did in the minors, at least — all the grit in the world isn’t going to help him help the Rockies win baseball games. And if he can’t handle center field, as opposed to his natural position in left, he can grind all he wants. He’ll just be grinding two or three steps short of those balls in the gap which are his responsibility to track down.

Absent extreme attitude deficiencies, which Fowler has never been reported to have, what Dickerson does or Fowler could have done to help the Rockies win are functions of baseball skill and performance, not their gritty-grinding-gutter-wrestling-ways. But hey, if it helps people accept the trade of an otherwise effective player and the installation of a guy who may not be able to handle the position, well, any cliches at hand, I suppose.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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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.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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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.