Link-O-Rama: Blanks goes 0 to 360 in 15 seconds

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* If you’ve ever wanted to see a 6-foot-6, 300-pound man hit a baseball 400 feet and then sprint 360 feet in 15 seconds, make sure to check out footage of Kyle Blanks from last night. One night after blasting a walk-off homer against the Cubs, Blanks hit the first inside-the-park homer in Petco Park history, complete with a head-first dive into home plate.
He’s now batting .252/.357/.496 with eight homers and nine doubles in 47 games despite calling the majors’ most pitcher-friendly ballpark home and has also drawn good reviews for his outfield defense after playing first base in the minors prior to his call-up, all of which is pretty awesome for a 22-year-old.
* Jake Peavy is now scheduled to make at least two more minor-league rehab starts before joining the White Sox’s rotation.
* Ivan Rodriguez’s second stint with the Rangers will begin today when he catches Kevin Millwood.
* Joe Maddon has added to his trademark hipster glasses by dying his hair black, which means that earrings, Ed Hardy t-shirts, and a tribal tattoo could be next for the 55-year-old Rays manager.
* Matt Keough made an All-Star team, pitched in the playoffs, and won 58 games in the majors, yet when TMZ.com reports on his recent DUI arrest he’s merely “Matt Keough of The Real Housewives of Orange County.”

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.