While the Giants gave Aubrey Huff a vote of confidence following his adventures in right field following Opening Weekend, they’ve apparently seen enough. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Brandon Belt has been shagging flies in right field and that Bruce Bochy is going to move him out there — and Huff back to first — sometime in the next few days.
It makes sense: while Belt hasn’t played in the outfield since he was in high school, his lack of finely-honed instincts can be compensated for somewhat by his speed and athleticism. After all, Huff’s instincts are poor too, and he lacks the speed.
Of course, Belt shouldn’t get too cozy out there. Given that he has utterly failed to hit so far this year — he’s currently sporting a line of .158/.256/.263 in 43 plate appearances — this may be more about getting Huff used to first base in anticipation of Cody Ross coming back from the DL and returning to right field. At which point it’s entirely possible that Belt is sent back down to Fresno for some seasoning.
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.
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.