For the past couple of years Major League Baseball has run a little American Idol-style contest to give players who didn’t make the All-Star team a chance to make it. It’s called The Final Vote, and it gives fans a few days to vote online and through social media for one of five finalists. It’s a program that encourages campaigns and hashtags and all kinds of nonsense which, for the most part is kind of fun, even if it clogs up our Twitter feeds for a couple of days.
But now the Final Vote is over and the results are in:
The creative campaigns are over. Twitter voting ended in a furious rally. And at the end of the four-day online voting program, it is Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs who were chosen by fans as the winners of the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Sale and Rizzo earned the final two AL and NL All-Star Team roster spots through online voting on MLB.com, the individual Club sites and Twitter, where designated player hashtags counted during the final six hours of voting.
Rizzo beat out Justin Morneau, even though Morneau had the entire nation of Canada behind him. Of course, in a battle between Canadian democracy and Chicago politics, take Chicago every time.
That may explain Chris Sale’s win too. I mean, set aside the fact that he totally deserves to be on the All-Star team. Clearly his victory over Garrett Richards was a function of The Chicago Way. Richards belongs too, of course. I would assume that an “injury” to a current All-Star will get him there. It always seems to happen that way.
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.