Barry Zito throws 50 pitches in simulated game

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Barry Zito faced live hitters yesterday for the first time since being placed on the disabled list with a sprained foot in mid-April, throwing 50 pitches against teammates Emmanuel Burriss and Eli Whiteside in a simulated game.

Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Whiteside hit a homer, which is never a good sign for any pitcher in any situation, but manager Bruce Bochy watched the session and said that Zito “threw well” and “should be encouraged” by how it went.

Zito is expected to move his recovery to extended spring training, followed by a minor-league rehab assignment, but Bochy told Kroichick that he’s still likely several weeks from potentially rejoining the Giants.

Ryan Vogelsong is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA since replacing Zito in the rotation, so the Giants may not be inclined to rush him back.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.