Quick hits: Smoltz to miss next start

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– John Smoltz will miss his next start with right shoulder tendinitis.
The 42-year-old already received a cortisone shot to ease the pain and
expects to be ready for a start against the Cubs next Saturday. In four
starts since signing with the Cardinals, Smoltz is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA,
0.91 WHIP and 28/1 K/BB ratio in 22 innings. Todd Wellemeyer will take
his turn in the rotation against the Marlins on Monday.


– Brian Matusz was brilliant on Saturday, allowing just one run over seven innings in a 7-3 win over the Yankees.
The 22-year-old southpaw held the Bombers to just four hits, while
striking out three and walking two. The rookie seems to keep getting
stronger, having pitched seven innings in each of his last three
starts. Now with 157 2/3 innings under his belt in his first
professional season, it would be wise to shut the kid down on a
positive note. Because he has pitched just 44 2/3 innings over his
eight starts with the Orioles, Matusz would still be eligible for the
American League Rookie of the Year award in 2010.



From failing to sign first-round pick Matthew Purke to rumors that the
Rangers would bench struggling pitcher Kevin Millwood so that his $12
million for 2010 wouldn’t vest, Rangers owner Tom Hicks
said on Saturday that the team is continuing to conduct business as usual, even though the club asked Major League Baseball for a $15 million line of credit earlier this summer.



– Randy Johnson is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Monday with eyes on a return during the Rockies series.
Johnson, who earned his 300th career victory in June, hasn’t appeared
in a game since separating his shoulder in July. He isn’t likely to
return as a starting pitcher.

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.