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Wednesday, August 2, 2006
Cirillo suggests balls at Coors Field waterlogged

Associated Press

DENVER -- Illegal, waterlogged baseballs are the real reason runs are harder to come by at Coors Field nowadays, Milwaukee infielder Jeff Cirillo suggested Tuesday.

Elias Says ...
There have been only 21 runs scored in the last five games played at Coors Field. That's the fewest runs scored by both teams combined, by far, over any five home-game span in the history of the Rockies. The previous low was 30 runs scored over five games, done earlier this season. The scores during these five games: 3-1, 4-2, 3-1, 4-2, 1-0.

To read more Elias Says from Tuesday night, click here.

Cirillo said that on Monday he compared a baseball from Milwaukee that Brewers first base coach Dave Nelson used to hit fly balls to the outfielders with one from that night's game. The one from Denver was spongy, puffy and heavy, he said.

"One looked like a round ball and the other looked like an oblong ball," Cirillo said. "And even some of the infielders said when they were throwing across the diamond, the ball felt a little heavy."

Cirillo did not offer the baseballs as evidence when he spoke to reporters before the Brewers-Rockies game on Tuesday night.

The baseball from Milwaukee might simply have dried out and shrunk in Denver's thin air, the very reason the humidor was introduced at Coors Field five years ago. Balls are now stored in a humidor before they are used in Colorado's home park.

Milwaukee's 1-0 win at Coors Field on Tuesday night was the major league-leading 11th shutout at Coors Field this year. Six have been thrown by Rockies pitchers. Also, it was the third 1-0 game at Coors this season after just one such game in the stadium's first 11 seasons.

Cirillo, who played two seasons in Colorado pre-humidor, agreed the Rockies have better pitching now, "but at the same time, does that mean the rest of the league has better pitching, also?"

Cirillo suggested shenanigans with the humidor could account for the dip in scoring and the decline in home runs at the ballpark that used to be known as "Coors Canaveral" for all the baseballs that were launched into the seats.

"The other thing, too, is what if the Rockies get behind by a lot of runs in a game? Say they break out the non-humidor balls, you know what I'm saying?" Cirillo said.

Hogwash, said his manager, Ned Yost.

"That's nuts, man. That's just a waste of time discussing it. The same balls are used by both teams," Yost said. "I don't care if they are dry or wet."

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who was Cirillo's hitting instructor in Colorado from 2000-01, got a good chuckle out of Cirillo's comments.

"I think as long as people are talking in that vein and that avenue, it can do nothing but work for us," Hurdle said. "We're not allowed to cheat. And the balls that we send in are tested. And the humidor's regulated. You know, Jeff's always been a very creative thinker. ... He's always been able to think outside the box."

Cirillo said he's serious and that baseball should investigate his claims.

"It's pretty dramatic, wouldn't you say? Most shutouts in Coors Field, in the National League, when you take into account Petco, Dodger Stadium, where Washington plays. Those are huge parks," Cirillo said.

"Hey, I'm not the first one to complain about it."

Runs have never been harder to score at Coors Field since the stadium opened in 1995. The average game now features a combined nine runs -- down from 15 runs that were scored a decade ago. Of course, the Rockies don't have the Blake Street Bombers hitting home runs all over the place as they did back then.