Potent quotables: 'Hang close'

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“It’s not been an easy road. Our goal is to hang
close. We want to catch them. We’ve got some pretty tough guys out
there in the clubhouse and we want to catch [the Tigers]. You have to
grind it out and keep playing.”




– Twins manager Ron Gardenhire after the Twins moved to within 2 1/2 games of the idle Tigers
with a 7-0 victory over the White Sox on Monday night. The Twins hope
to stick close with a four-game series against the AL Central leaders
next week.



“I’ve got two more starts, and that’s all I can concern myself with is
one pitch, one inning at a time. I know that sounds cliche … It’s been a tough year, and
I haven’t been able to get anything going. … I’m looking forward to
have two more starts and if you want to use the word ‘salvage,’ then
that probably fits well.”




– Kyle Lohse would love to join his teammates on the postseason roster.
He allowed three runs over six innings as the Cardinals moved their
magic number to three with a 7-3 win over the Astros on Monday night.




“We have a lot of the base we need for a winning team, a playoff team,
a World Series team. For years to come, we have great
players and great camaraderie. I think this team is on an upswing.”




– Barry Zito, as the Giants moved to within four games of the idle-Rockies
in the Wild Card race with a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday
night. The playoffs are starting to long like a longshot, but at the
very least, the Giants have clinched their first non-losing season
since 2004.




“It seems like we’ve been on sort of a gradual downward spiral since we
made it to the World Series (in 2005), and I think you can’t just point
to one thing. There are several
factors involved in that. If there was ever an environment for sweeping
reform or change, this would be it.”




– Lance Berkman, who finds his team on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Giants. Third base coach Dave Clark was promoted to interim manager following the dismissal of Cecil Cooper on Monday.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.

Daniel Szew: “Landa was a leader, happy-go-lucky guy”

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 1:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins poses for a photo during the Twins' photo day on March 1, 2016 at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.

Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”

Per Berardino:

He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.

If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.

“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”

Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.