Adrian Gonzalez’s season and possibly even his long-term playing future have been threatened by his recurring back problems, but the Dodgers first baseman tells Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that he intends to return to the field in September even if his back is still bothering him. “Put it this way: Even if I’m not quote-unquote 100%, I’m still going to go in September because what I have is what I have,” Gonzalez said. “If it doesn’t get better with all this time off, it’s not going to get better, so I might as well learn to play with medication.” If he isn’t healthy enough for regular play, Gonzalez said he is happy to take a pinch-hitting role or to cede playing time to Cody Bellinger since “I’m just here to win. It’s not about, ‘It’s my position,’ or, ‘It’s his position.’ It’s about winning as a team.” The piece is well worth a full read, as Gonzalez also discusses how his back problems have raised the question of retirement.
Here’s more from around the NL West…
- Outfielder A.J. Pollock has officially returned to action for the Diamondbacks, with the club announcing that he has been activated from the 10-day DL after a lengthy absence owing to a groin strain. Arizona hasn’t encountered any real troubles in his absence, but the return promises to make for an even more compelling roster. The surprising D-Backs not only seem a shoe-in for a Wild Card spot, but currently sit just two-and-a-half games out of the NL West lead.
- Eduardo Nunez didn’t play in a scheduled rehab game on Sunday due to continued discomfort in his ailing hamstring, and the Giants infielder may not return to action until after the All-Star break, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Nunez, who has been on the DL since June 24, is perhaps the Giants’ clearest trade chip as the club prepares to be deadline sellers. If he can’t return until after the break, Nunez will have just over two weeks to keep up his solid pre-injury production and prove to interested trade suitors that he is healthy, or else the Giants will have trouble gaining full value in a deal.
- Christian Arroyo suffered a fractured left hand after being hit by a pitch in minor league action on Saturday, and the Giants prospect is in danger of missing the rest of the season, MLB.com’s Chris Haft writes. Manager Bruce Bochy said he was hoping Arroyo would be healthy in time to be a September call-up for the Giants. Arroyo made his big league debut earlier this season and hit just .192/.244/.304 in 135 plate appearances, though San Francisco obviously wants to give one of its most highly-touted young players more experience in the Show. Arroyo’s development has already been stalled by another hand injury in June; in fact, Arroyo’s first game back from that prior injury was Saturday’s contest.
- Padres relievers Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates are under-the-radar candidates to be moved at the deadline, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune write as part of a reader mailbag. Stammen has a 4.53 ERA in 45 2/3 IP, a number that is somewhat inflated by a few bad outings; 10 of Stammen’s 23 earned runs this year came during a three-game stretch in April, plus he allowed a grand slam in his last game. Yates, meanwhile has an outstanding 2.08 ERA, 14.2 K/9 and 5.13 K/BB rate over 26 IP since being claimed off waivers from the Angels in April. Neither pitcher is likely to net the Padres a big return in a trade, though as Lin notes, San Diego has little in the way of healthy trade chips aside from Brad Hand.
- Also from Lin’s mailbag, he reports that star pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza is playing catch but hasn’t yet thrown off a mound. Espinoza has yet to pitch at all this season after suffering forearm tightness in early April, and then additional soreness in May that led to a shutdown. The Padres, as you might expect, are taking it slow with Espinoza’s recovery given his long-term value to the organization. Lin notes that Espinoza might possibly not pitch at all this summer, as it will still be a while before the young righty is ready for game action.