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.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.