MLB notebook: Verlander insists baseballs are ‘juiced’

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander surrendered a MLB-high 26 home runs before the All-Star break, so it’s no great surprise his opinion of the spike in offense and home runs is explicit.

Jul 8, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; American League starting pitcher Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros speaks during the All Star Press Conference at the Huntington Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s a f—-ing joke,” said Verlander, an eight-time All-Star who is starting his second All-Star Game on Tuesday. “Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke.”

He went a step further when asked if he believed MLB intentionally juiced baseballs to increase home runs and offense across the league.

“Yes. 100 percent,” Verlander said. “They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it. It’s not coincidence. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced.”

Players hit 3,691 home runs in the season’s first half and are on pace to hit 6,668, which would smash the 2017 record of 6,105 homers.

—The Los Angeles Dodgers activated infielder David Freese from the 10-day injured list and optioned outfielder Kyle Garlick and infielder Edwin Rios to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Freese, 36, has been out since June 21 with a left hamstring strain. In 56 games this season, he is batting .308 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs.

—The Washington Nationals plan to sign reliever Brad Boxberger to a minor league contract, according to The Washington Post.

The 31-year-old right-hander was an All-Star with Tampa Bay in 2015, leading the AL that season with 41 saves. He was cut by Kansas City last week after going 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA and one save in 29 games.

—Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy suffered a concussion and a broken nose in Sunday’s home-plate collision with Houston’s Jake Marisnick.

Lucroy, 33, shared the diagnosis with ESPN via text message, adding he expected to be released from the hospital Monday. He is batting .237 this season with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 73 games.

—Field Level Media

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