Juiced baseballs in 2020? Too early to tell but Kyle Freeland says they feel different

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Big-league hitters slugged 6,776 homers in 2019, breaking the record of 6,105 set in 2017. Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland served up 25 homers in 104 1/3 innings last season vs. just 17 in 202 1/3 innings in his stellar 2018 season.

Juiced baseballs? Freeland won’t go there, but there are some in the Colorado clubhouse who think the 2019 batch of baseballs hurt Freeland more than any Rockies pitcher.

Freeland, who’s scheduled to make his second start of the season on Saturday vs. San Diego, said it’s too early to predict if baseballs will fly high and far again this season. Freeland, however, said the baseballs do feel different.

“Obviously, only being one start into the season, I think it’s just going to take a little to see,” Freeland said. “But in that one start, I did notice that the consistency of the baseballs is a lot greater than it was last year.

“I remember there were times last year when I would get a baseball and it felt great in my hand and the seams were the right tension, they were tight and they were how I liked the baseball. Then that ball would get fouled off and I would get another baseball from the umpire and it would feel completely different. Not even close. So the one thing I noticed in my one start was the consistency of the baseballs and how it felt better in my hand.”

Change of habit. Right fielder Charlie Blackmon follows a strict routine — before, during and after games. It’s one big reason why he’s a four- all-star. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has altered his day-to-day business.

“For example, we can’t watch video at all during the game,” Blackmon said before Friday night’s game against the Padres. “I can’t make any in-game adjustments based on video, which I was assured would not be the case. And that has been taken away, which is really important to me.

“So that’s a big adjustment that I’m having to make. But at least I’m still playing baseball, and I keep things in perspective.”