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Scenes from Spring Training: Camelback Ranch is pretty darn impressive

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Camelback Ranch is a nice joint.  As far as player facilities and overall handsomeness of the place, it may be the best in the entire Cactus League.

Like the Dbacks and Rockies place out at Salt River, Camelback has large buildings behind the left and right field walls for the Dodgers and White Sox, respectively. Inside of each building is everything a training baseball team could want, from meeting rooms to training rooms to a comfortable and well-appointed clubhouse.  The chairs may not be quite as cushy as those in which the Rockies and Dbacks sit, but like I said last week, that may not be an altogether bad thing.

The game doesn’t start for a couple hours so who knows how that rolls yet — and I’m partial to the older, cozy joints for actual in-game experience anyway — but you can’t deny the sheer beauty of this ballpark.  My wife works in the architecture/design industry and this place looks a lot like the covers of the highbrow trade magazines floating around her office. Frank Lloyd Wright-meets-HOK-meets-that nice resort you stayed at in Sedona that year.

But rather than stay in the main part of the park and gawk I strolled over to White Sox Central to see what’s going down. You’ve heard my descriptions of these places all week, so I’ll skew photo tour:

That’s a sorta rare sight: an outfielder — Alejandro De Aza — working out with pitchers Chris Sale and Freddy Dolsi. Usually the pitchers and position players stay pretty separate. Separate lockers, separate stretching groups and everything.

That’s Lucas Harrell getting his pitching in.  I sat and watched him a long damn time. There’s nothing more enjoyable for me than to watch a pitcher throw up close. It’s just satisfying on so many levels. Speaking of throwing, this was overheard a few feet over:

Coach 1: Wait, wasn’t Burls supposed to throw? [meaning Mark Buehrle].

Coach 2: I thought so too, but he came out wearing basketball shoes this morning.

Coach 1: Huh. Guess he ain’t throwin’ this mornin’.

This was fun:

There are approximately 467 workout fields at this joint, but for some reason the Dodgers and White Sox were working out on the same one for a while this morning.  Talking to a guy with the Diamondbacks the other day he said that they see Rockies players so seldomly that he tends to forget they share a home with them.

I probably wasn’t supposed to take this picture — no photos inside the building, the sign says — but I couldn’t resist. The Sox have a long hallway with GIGANTIC photos all up and down it. Photos from the 2005 World Series, Buehrle’s perfecto, and just about anything else you can imagine.  The one in the foreground is a photo of Kenny Williams presenting Obama with a Sox jersey.

This was cool too. It hangs on the wall as you enter the White Sox team offices.  Though I sorta wish it was out someplace in the ballpark.  I bet if you polled 100 fans that only a couple would be able to tell you anything about Charlie Lau, and that’s kind of a shame.  Coaches are probably the most invisible men in baseball history.

Game time — my last game down here this year — is 1PM Mountain time.  I’m gonna go wander.

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)
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.