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Is Aroldis Chapman’s drop in velocity cause for concern?

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Is Aroldis Chapman pitching hurt? Is he already being overworked? Cincinnati Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez seems to be concerned.

During the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat to the San Diego Padres, Hernandez called pitching coach Bryan Price and trainer Paul Lessard to the mound after noticing the flamethrower’s velocity was way down.

This is what Hernandez told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“Yesterday, he threw what 93, 94″,” Hernandez said. “Then today, he’s throwing 91. He’s throws almost 100 over every pitch. Now, he can’t get up to 93. There’s got to be something. You can’t lose it in one day.”

A guy who threw a record 105-mph fastball last season suddenly unable to reach 93? Cue the alarm bells, right? Maybe not.

Chapman faced just two batters, allowing a walk and committing an error. He was removed after he recorded his lone out. But manager Dusty Baker said that was just a precaution, stating “he said he was OK, but that’s Cuban baseball.”

Hernandez also chalked it up to a young guy trying to be tough and pitch through pain and fatigue. He said he spoke to the 23-year-old pitcher, who was pitching for the fourth time in five days, and advised him that it can be better to miss a couple days then suffer an injury that puts him out of action for a longer stretch of time.

“He’s got a lot of stress …,” Hernandez told Fay, “I think he’s going to be OK.”

Reds fans certainly hope so.

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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.