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Going deep with Jeffrey Loria

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Jerry Crasnick sat down with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria for a rare one-on-one interview.

Crasnick sells it as a look at another, more benevolent side of Loria than the cartoonish villain figure we often see. And I will grant that the interview does go deeper with Loria than most stories about him do. We certainly see an unprecedented humanity to Loria in this interview with respect to his reaction to the death of Jose Fernandez, with whom Loria was very close and whose death affected him greatly. Most of the interview deals with that, in fact, and it’s certainly worth reading for that alone. Loria knew Fernandez in ways most people didn’t, and it’s fascinating to get a glimpse of the late ace from a new perspective.

Still, no one has ever seriously questioned Loria’s relationship with his players. He was famously close with Hanley Ramirez and many other Marlins players over the years, often in cases where the player himself was not necessarily a fan favorite. Loria likes baseball and he likes baseball players. We’ve always known that. What he has been criticized for has been in not caring a whole hell of a lot about what fans think or feel and, instead, caring a whole hell of a lot about what will enrich Jeffrey Loria.

There is nothing in this interview to change our view about that. He drops multiple references to his own wealth and the ways in which he spends his money. He talks about wanting to win another World Series trophy so he can have matching “table lamps,” not because it’d be a great things for fans in Miami. Indeed, he doesn’t use the word “fan” once. By the time we get to a question about him possibly becoming Trump’s ambassador to France, the way in which he talks about all of that and his relationship with Trump makes him sound a lot like . . . Donald Trump. At least on a superficial level in which the world more or less seems to exist solely via his own personal experience of it and place in it.

I dunno. I don’t mean to pile on Loria, because so many people have over the years. And I genuinely feel for him in the wake of Jose Fernandez’s death, as the two seemed to have a genuine love for one another. You can tell the loss has hit him hard. I just don’t think that anything here rehabilitates Loria’s reputation or suggests that the reputation he has is unearned. In certain respects he, like almost everyone, is a good person, particularly for the people to whom he is and was close. With respect to how he affects most of us, as baseball fans, he’s still Jeffrey Loria.

 

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.