Ross Ohlendorf: research intern

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There was a time when most ballplayers had regular joe jobs in the offseason. Some guys sold cars. Others sold real estate.  Richie Hebner dug graves for cryin’ out loud.  That practice is long gone now that even league minimum salaries are more than enough to live on through the winter, but somebody forgot to tell that to Pirates’ pitcher Ross Ohlendorf:

An e-mail requesting an internship arrived at the Agriculture
Department this summer with an impressive resume: Princeton University
degree in operations research and financial engineering, 3.8 college
GPA, 1520 SATs. Ross Ohlendorf didn’t mention his 95 mph sinking
fastball, but it probably wouldn’t have hurt his chances. Department
officials were impressed that the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher wanted to
work for them in the offseason . . .

. . . Ohlendorf, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds, shares
a small office with another USDA employee. His work is mainly focused
on animal identification — the nationwide tracking system intended to
pinpoint an animal’s location after a disease is discovered.”I’ve
really enjoyed it,” he said. “In addition to learning a lot of things
and meeting a lot of neat people, I’ve gotten to do some cool events
too.”

Ohlendorf actually had a decent enough season for the Pirates this year, so he probably won’t need to think about getting a real job for a while. But maybe teammates Matt Capps and Brandon Moss should take note and start sharpening their resumes a little.

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.