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The Astros and Hunter Pence went to an arbitration hearing today

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Hunter Pence and the Astros wrapped up MLB’s third and final arbitration hearing of the winter earlier today, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

Following the three-hour, 45-minute hearing, Astros general manager Ed Wade said that he expects the three-person panel to render a decision sometime tomorrow.

“This is part of the process we go through when you can’t reach a negotiated settlement, and now it’s all about baseball,” Wade said.

Pence filed for $6.9 million and was offered $5.15 million from the Astros when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. The 27-year-old earned $3.5 million in his first time through the arbitration process last winter as a Super Two. He batted .282/.325/461 last season while slugging 25 home runs for the third consecutive year and setting career-highs with 91 RBI, 93 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.

As mentioned above, we only saw three arbitration cases go to a hearing this winter, down from eight last offseason. Ross Ohlendorf won his case against the Pirates while the Angels won against Jered Weaver.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.

Jake Diekman will miss at least half of the 2017 season

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Jake Diekman #41 of the Texas Rangers works against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Rangers reliever Jake Diekman will have surgery on January 25 to help alleviate ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, the lefty will miss at least half of the 2017 regular season, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Diekman was diagnosed with the illness when he was 11 years old. He has brought awareness to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America with a “Gut It Out” campaign.

Diekman, who turns 30 years old on Saturday, finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.40 ERA and a 59/26 K/BB ratio in 53 innings. He came to the Rangers from the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade on July 31, 2015.

The Rangers and Diekman avoided arbitration last Friday, agreeing to a $2.55 million salary for the 2017 season.