The Angels made the anticpated move prior to Tuesday’s game, placing Vernon Wells on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin and calling up speedster Reggie Willits to play a reserve role.
But this one came out of left field: replacing Wells tonight and making his first career start in the outfield is usual second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick had often shifted over to first base with Kendry Morales out, having made seven starts at the position this year. But he has only one inning of experience in the outfield in the majors, that coming in center.
The reasoning is pretty clear: manager Mike Scioscia thinks his defense is better with Maicer Izturis at second and Alberto Callaspo at third than it would be with one of those two DHing and Bobby Abreu playing left field.
The experiment could be quickly abandoned if Kendrick embarrasses himself in left field. However, this is definitely the night to give it a try. Joel Pineiro, who gets about as many grounders as any pitcher in baseball, will be on the mound against the White Sox.
Update: The Orange County Register’s Sam Miller points out that Kendrick’s previous one inning in center field wasn’t even legitimate. He was listed as the center fielder as part of a five-man infield on a play in which the Angels turned two.
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.