Diaz left Sunday's game with a strained left hamstring, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. After emerging as one of the big surprises of the 2016 campaign, Diaz's demotion to Triple-A Memphis and prolonged stay in the minor leagues this season raise questions about the Cards' long-term plans for him. Paul DeJong usurped Diaz on the organizational depth chart, and it's reasonable to think that a utility role may be in Diaz's future if he remains in St. Louis.
Diaz exited Sunday's game against the Brewers early with an apparent injury, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Diaz appeared to tweak his hamstring while attempting to beat out a groundball in the bottom of the second inning. He was replaced by Greg Garcia between innings, which will put a close on Diaz's 2017 campaign. We'll have to wait and see what the specifics of his injury are.
Diaz was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Diaz had been toiling with the Redbirds since June 28, when he was sent down to work on refining his swing. He wrapped up his Triple-A tenure with a .253/.305/.388 line over 46 games, with both his batting average and OPS actually checking in lower than his production in those categories during his 71 games with the big-league club prior to his demotion. He's likely to see sporadic playing time for the balance of the regular season, as standout rookie Paul DeJong is firmly entrenched in Diaz's old everyday shortstop role.
Diaz recently asked for and was granted permission to begin working at second and third base in addition to shortstop at Triple-A Memphis, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. "I think versatility for most players is valuable," said Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. "Now that he's been down there awhile and adjusting to it, [we] thought it was time to create some flexibility for him." Diaz's request was essentially born out of self-preservation, considering that rookie Paul DeJong has a stranglehold on the shortstop position in the majors for the foreseeable future. Diaz worked at multiple spots in the infield during his playing days in Cuba, but had focused on shortstop during his time in the Cardinals' organization. Sent down to Memphis back on June 28 to refine his swing, the 27-year-old has been rather ordinary with the Redbirds, slashing .252/.292/.396 with four home runs and 20 RBI.
Diaz is 13-for-33 with two home runs and eight RBI over his last eight games with Triple-A Memphis, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. The 27-year-old had been mired in a 3-for-26 slump prior to that stretch, so the hot streak is certainly a welcome sight. He's boosted his minor-league line to .276/.300/.447, but he doesn't currently have a clear path back to the majors with Paul DeJong having taken a firm hold of the everyday shortstop job in Diaz's absence.
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