Thursdays quick hits – Big Hurt update

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Frank Thomas told ESPN radio Thursday that he’s still open to playing again, but that he getting closer to announcing his retirement.

Thomas isn’t expecting anyone to come knocking on his door now that we’re three months into the season.

“That percent right now is probably about five percent, since we’re so
deep into the season now,” Thomas said on ESPN 1000. “But I’m still in
shape, ready to go, if anything happens.”

Despite saying earlier in the week that he’d remain in the
rotation for now, the Pirates demoted Ian Snell to Triple-A on
Thursday, apparently at his request.

Snell had turned in three straight quality starts before struggling in
2 2/3 innings against the Indians on Tuesday. It sounds like Snell
might be at least as fatigued mentally as physically, though his
velocity has been down for most of the year and his slider just isn’t
breaking like it used to. He’s always had question marks in that area,
though. Whether it’s a lack of drive or confidence or intelligence, I’m
not sure, but it’s his arm that made him a major leaguer, not his head.

The Mariners have lost shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to the 15-day disabled list because of a hamstring strain.

Is it a loss, even if his backup is hitting .128? Ronny Cedeno has
been a complete bust offensively while seeing more playing time of
late, but he has the same sort of offensive potential as Betancourt and
he is the better defender. The Mariners may well be better off.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.