Carlos Gonzalez cleared for live batting practice

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Via beat writer Thomas Harding of MLB.com

Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez will take batting practice on the field Thursday and is pushing toward an injury rehab assignment after recovering from surgery to remove a tumor from his left index finger.

Rockies trainer Keith Dugger guessed on June 11 that CarGo would be out five weeks, so he’s right on schedule. The 28-year-old was batting just .255 with a .756 OPS before the surgery, but that relative lack of production can be blamed on the tumor in his finger, which had been bothering him for much of 2014.

Gonzalez hit .302/.367/.591 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 110 games last year.

When he returns, the Rockies’ starting outfield will likely be Gonzalez in left, Charlie Blackmon in center, and Corey Dickerson in right. Michael Cuddyer is out until August with a major shoulder injury.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.