Carlos Gonzalez hopes to return from the DL before the All-Star break

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The Rockies are getting Nolan Arenado back from the DL for tonight’s game against the Dodgers and if all goes according to plan for Carlos Gonzalez, he might not be too far behind him.

Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post brings word this evening Gonzalez hopes to rejoin the Rockies prior to the All-Star break. It’s worth noting that he was just cleared for live batting practice yesterday as he makes his way back from surgery to remove a tumor from his left index finger, so his timetable might be a tad on the optimistic side given that the Rockies finish the first half on July 13. At the very least, it sounds like he has a good chance to be ready when the second half begins on July 18.

Gonzalez wasn’t his usual self prior to surgery last month, batting just .255/.307/.449 with eight home runs and 31 RBI over 52 games. As the injuries have piled up for the Rockies, they have predictably faded in a big way. They are 8-22 since the start of June and currently find themselves at 36-49 on the year, 11 games back in the NL West and just 1.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks for last place.

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.