Brandon Belt hit just .192 with one homer in 17 games before the Giants demoted him to the minors last week, but he wasted no time resuming his destruction of minor-league pitching by homering in his first Triple-A at-bat.
Belt went deep against former big leaguer Micah Owings and played left field, with the Giants giving him some outfield action in an effort to see if he can be less of a disaster there than Aubrey Huff.
Belt has batted .353 with 24 homers, 78 total extra-base hits, and 95 walks in 138 games as a minor leaguer, so his ability to put up huge numbers at Triple-A isn’t really in question. Once he gets some reps in the outfield and has his service time delayed long enough to push back his future free agency the Giants figure to give him another shot in San Francisco, likely some time around the All-Star break.
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.