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Many pitchers believe that the baseball has been “juiced”

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Earlier, Craig wrote about another study that concluded that the baseballs have, in fact, been altered which has increased the rate at which players have been hitting home runs. Major League Baseball has maintained that there have been no nefarious changes.

Pitchers sound pretty confident that the ball has indeed been altered. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports spoke to some pitchers. Red Sox starter David Price said that the ball has been altered, “One hundred percent. We have all talked about it.”

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said, “I’m getting the same feedback” from pitchers. “It’s the balls,” he said. “They’re throwing harder with it, but they’re getting less movement, so they’re just hanging there.”

Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler said, “There’s just something different about the baseballs. I don’t have anything to quantify it, but the balls just don’t feel the same. It just feels different to me, a little harder, tighter than the past.”

According to Mets reliever Jerry Blevins, “It just feels like there’s been a lot of home runs being hit by guys who normally don’t hit them, or by guys who normally don’t him them where they hit them. I’ve seen so many home runs that just don’t look normal. Even at our place, (pitcher) Jake deGrom hit an opposite-field homer. I mean, he’s a good hitter, but oppo power at Citi Field? You normally don’t see that by anybody.”

Chris Archer brought some science into his explanation. “I’m staying away from my candid thoughts but I know this for a fact: Triple-A balls travel 30 less feet than the major league ball, with the same exit velocity and launch angle. It’s wound differently in the minor leagues, which has an effect on your breaking ball, the movement of your fastball, with how the ball carries off the bat. Bellinger, he didn’t showcase this kind of power (in the minor leagues) because a fly ball to the warning track is now a homer.”

There are plenty more quotes in Nightengale’s column.

The evidence certainly seems damning. However, it is important to note that pitchers, of course, are biased. It behooves pitchers to push the “juiced ball” theory for two reasons: it helps them explain poor performance without taking personal responsibility, and it could lead to the ball being altered back to being pitcher-friendly. A pitcher trying to secure a lucrative free agent contract may say, when his poor 2017 performance is noted, that it was entirely due to the “juiced” baseball. And, in unison, pitchers backing the “juiced ball” theory publicly may put pressure on Major League Baseball to balance the baseball, so to speak.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.