Twins GM on manager Ron Gardenhire: “He’ll be back”

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Researching managerial numbers can be a little tricky, but as far as I can tell the only manager since 1960 to have four consecutive 90-loss seasons and keep his job is Tom Kelly of the Twins in the 1990s.

And now the guy who replaced him as Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire, may be joining him on that exclusive list.

Minnesota has lost 95-plus games in three straight seasons and the Twins are on pace to lose 90 this year, but general manager Terry Ryan indicated to Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Gardenhire will be back in 2015.

Here’s the exchange between Hartman and Ryan:

What about Gardenhire?

“Same stuff. He is signed for next year, so you don’t have to worry about him.”

He’ll be back?

“Yeah, yeah, I would say he’ll be back,” Ryan said.

Does Ryan think Gardenhire has done a good job this season with a struggling Twins club?

“We can all do better,” Ryan said. “We’re not where we need to be. We can all do a better job. He has to, I have to, as an organization, we all have to. We’re just not playing up to what we’re wishing we were, consequently we’re not playing games that mean much in September.”

Ryan is the same GM who kept Kelly around and the Twins are known for their incredible loyalty, for better or worse, so it certainly shouldn’t shock anyone in Minnesota if Gardenhire sticks around.

Still, if the Twins retain two managers following four consecutive 90-loss seasons and the other 29 teams have done the same a combined zero times in 50-plus years … well, plenty of Twins fans won’t be very happy and it’ll be hard to blame them.

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.