Major League Baseball denies the Rays protest from Saturday’s game

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In case you missed it, the Rays protested Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays. The reason: umpire Bob Davidson allowed the Blue Jays to challenge a pickoff play at first base despite the fact that the pitcher, Mark Buehrle, was already on the mound and the Rays hitter was in the box. Once that happens, Section II.D of the replay rules says the previous play can no longer be challenged. The Jays won the challenge and the Rays’ baserunner was ruled out.

Moments ago Major League Baseball announced that the protest would be denied. No reason was given.

No reason was given, in all likelihood, because there is no reason for the ruling other than a lack of desire on Major League Baseball’s part to not overturn an umpire’s decision. But it’s clear that Davidson messed up and allowed a challenge when the rules did not call for one. This is where the players were when Gibbons came out to challenge the call, after all:

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And for what it’s worth, the baserunner was eliminated in a one-run game that was eventually decided by one run, so there can be no reasonable argument that the improper challenge was harmless. It could very well have made a difference in the game.

Of course this is one of the many dumb parts of having a replay rule tied to manager’s challenges.

UPDATE:  Worth noting — which I did not earlier, that Section K(4) of the Replay Regulations addresses game protests. It reads as follows:

“Official Baseball Rule 4.19 shall have no applicability to these Replay Regulations. No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the Replay Official. Moreover, a violation of any rule or procedure set forth herein shall not constitute a basis for protesting a game.”

Likewise, the judgment of an Umpire is not grounds for a protest.

Which doesn’t mean that Davidson got things right here. And which basically makes no sense, at least insofar as the mechanics of replay are concerned. A replay official makes a call you don’t like? Fine, live with it, and don’t protest. The actual rules of replay itself are misapplied? I don’t understand why that should be exempted.

 

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.