Jeremy Affeldt’s status in question after another weird injury

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UPDATE: X-rays came back negative, so Affeldt is hoping to be available for Game 1 of the NLCS.

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For the third time in the past 18 months Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt has suffered a weird injury.

Back in late 2011 he sliced his right hand while separating hamburger patties for a barbeque and needed surgery to repair nerve damage. Then in May he sprained his knee when his young son jumped off the couch and into his arms.

And now? Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News has the details:

Affeldt pitched a shutout seventh inning and was supposed to face Jay Bruce in the eighth, but Affeldt had to be removed after a screamer off of Gregor Blanco’s bat sent him scrambling. Affeldt was standing on the top step of the dugout and ducked out of the way, only to fall down the steps and jam his left hand as he braced himself for the fall.

He had to be removed from the game and was later spotted in the dugout with his arm in a sling, but Affeldt insisted after the game that he’s fine and will be available to pitch in the NLCS. “I’m just wearing it in case one of these knuckleheads tries to hit me with a champagne bottle,” Affeldt told Pavlovic.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.