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15 years ago today: Ernie Young hits three homers for A’s

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It was May 10, 1996.

Ernie Young, a 26-year-old center fielder getting his first real shot in the majors, blasted three homers as the A’s beat the Twins 15-5. He had entered the game with three homers in 164 career at-bats, the lowest previous homer total for anyone who has ever had a three-homer game.

(The last of those homers came off LaTroy Hawkins, one of two players from the game still active today. The other, Jason Giambi, started at third base for Oakland. Steve Wojciechowski and Frankie Rodriguez were the starters.)

Young went on to hit 19 homers that season, but he finished with a mediocre .242/.326/.424 line.  The A’s kept him around in 1997, but as he continued to struggle, they went to Damon Mashore in center field instead.

Aside from a year in Japan in 2002, Young spent most of the rest of his career tearing up Triple-A pitching.  At 31, he was the oldest player on the 2000 U.S. Olympic baseball team that took home gold in Sydney.  He made his final major league appearance with the Tigers in 2004, but he played until he was 37 and hit 319 minor league homers in all.  In parts of 13 seasons in Triple-A, he hit .282/.371/.502 with 245 homers.  He hit .225/.310/.378 with 27 homers in 908 at-bats as a major leaguer.

Today, Young is managing in the Tigers system with the West Michican Whitecaps of the Midwest League.

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)
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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.