Jeff Keppinger was minding his business in the dugout …

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Jeff Keppinger had done a nice job stepping into a bigger role in the Rays’ infield following Evan Longoria’s hamstring injury, hitting .295 with a .728 OPS in 29 games, but now he’s joined Longoria on the disabled list.

Keppinger has a broken right big toe, which happened when he was sitting in the dugout during Saturday’s game and a Martin Prado foul ball struck his foot. That’s some kinda aim, Martin.

To fill Keppinger’s spot on the roster the Rays dealt with the Pirates for Drew Sutton, a journeyman infielder traded for the second time in 72 hours. Keppinger is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, so Sutton will be thrown into the pieced-together infield mix with Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson, and Will Rhymes.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.