The Yankees are totally pretending that A-Rod isn’t nearing Willie Mays’ home run total

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I understand the Yankees’ lack of a desire to actually celebrate Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run. I totally get why they don’t want to pay him a big bonus for actually hitting it. They may even have some decent legal recourse to avoid doing so, I don’t know. Really, and 100% honestly, there are non-crazy arguments for the Yankees to not want to be in the Alex Rodriguez Glorification business.

But “acknowledging reality” is not the same thing as glorifying, and the Yankees are apparently not even going to acknowledge reality. From Mark Feinsand of the Daily News:

When is a milestone not really a milestone? When the Yankees decide it’s not, apparently.

The team is not including Alex Rodriguez’s pursuit of Willie Mays’ No. 4 spot on the all-time home runs list as part of its daily “Upcoming Milestones” sheet, which distributed to the media prior to every series by the media relations department.

I’ve seen these sheets before. They have everything from big, important milestones to the bullpen catcher’s birthday. It’s a veritable avalanche of facts, figures and trivia. Sometimes reporters use them to flesh out game stories or columns. Most of the time the information gets ignored.

But, as Feinsand notes, this is a litigation tactic. If the Yankees appear to be getting any marketing value out of A-Rod tying Mays, it could be used against them if A-Rod decides to take them to arbitration for not paying the bonus. A “see, you marketed it!” kind of thing. They are, in contrast, noting on the milestones sheet other, relatively minor upcoming A-Rod feats such him being one run shy of tying Derek Jeter for ninth place on MLB’s all-time runs scored list.

All of which is stupid, because it’s not like the media and fans aren’t aware that Rodriguez is nearing Mays’ mark. It’s not like we won’t note it and, if he’s at 659 when the Yankees are on a homestand, at least some people won’t buy tickets to see it. Of course they will. It may not give the Yankees a $6 million marketing kick, but it’ll be something. And if they note every single minor thing their players achieve but conspicuously avoid this one thing, an arbitrator is going to assume that they did it precisely to try to get out of paying the guy. Ultimately, all that matters to whether they do have to pay him is what the contract language says about it all, which we don’t know. A line on an information sheet isn’t going to change the game.

But it will make the Yankees brass look dumb. And make them look like they think the fans and the press is dumb. If that’s something they think is cool, well, good for them. Most people think that’s pretty jerky.

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.