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Former Marlins pitcher Ryan Tucker opening up a pot dispensary

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Ryan Tucker was a Marlins’ first round draft pick in 2005 who made it to the bigs as a reliever in 2008. You probably never heard of him given that he pitched only 18 games in the bigs — 13 with the Marlins in his rookie year and five more in 2011 with the Rangers — before retiring because of a messed up shoulder.

He’s in the news today, however, due to an article at the cannabis website Leafly.* They report that Tucker is opening up a marijuana dispensary and cultivation business in his home state of California. The article uses Tucker as a jumping off point to discuss the marijuana culture of baseball.

Or, rather, the lack of it:

It’s almost impossible to be a stoner in the minors. Baseball’s hella straight until you get to the big leagues . . . on the surface, baseball is the straightest of the four major sports. On the surface. Below, it’s a different story.

The double standard comes by virtue of Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement which, as we’ve noted in the past, does not provide for randomly testing those covered by it for pot. Players not on a 40-man roster (i.e. most minor leaguers) are subjected to random pot testing. As a result, minor leaguers have a strong incentive to stay off the stuff, even if some of them don’t. Major leaguers, if they are inclined to smoke pot, merely have an incentive not to be super obvious about it. Even if some of them are.

I get why it’s handled this way. Drug laws can be rather nonsensical in certain ways but they are a fact of life. A pretty uncertain fact when it comes to weed these days as well, with a patchwork of legalization/non-criminalization/prohibition across the country, all of which could turn on a dime given the views of the new Attorney General. So, even if there is a tacit acknowledgment by Major League Baseball that marijuana is not a pressing concern — if it were, they’d push for testing big leaguers — they have an incentive to not appear as though they condone it for a host of legal and public relations reasons.

Still, it’s hard to square the policies baseball has regarding weed with its almost completely hands-off stance with respect to alcohol and painkillers which can be and often are far more dangerous and destructive to an athlete and those around him than weed can be. That disconnect is not just a baseball’s problem, of course. All of society is geared that way for a host of reasons.

Anyway, it’s an interesting subject.

 

*I link the article because I have to and you should read the article if you’d like to because the topic is interesting, but I’ll warn you, it’s not a great read. I’m not sure why, but it seems like virtually everything you read about marijuana is written in the voice of that stoner kid you knew in high school. Eye-rollingly bad slang and the implication that the author and the reader are in on some cool secret. You can almost see the author winking and you can mentally add “you know what I’m sayin’, right dude?” at the end of every paragraph. We need to normalize and rationalize our marijuana laws in this country, but boy howdy, do we need the people who advocate for such normalization and rationalization to grow up a bit. No one’s going to treat your subject seriously if you don’t treat it seriously yourself.

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.