zito throws

Barry Zito pitching well through two minor league rehab starts

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Giants left-hander Barry Zito allowed just two hits and one run over 6 2/3 innings last Monday in his first rehab start at Single-A San Jose. He struck out six batters and did not issue a walk while reporting no discomfort in his once-sprained right foot.

Zito was back at it again on Saturday at San Jose, according to CSN Bay Area, surrendering just two earned runs over seven strong frames and striking out six in his second minor league rehab start.

The Giants are likely to move the veteran left-hander to Triple-A Fresno for his next rehab outing and could ask him to make two or three appearances there before they consider activating him from the disabled list sometime in early July.

Ryan Vogelsong has emerged as a highly reliable piece of the San Francisco starting rotation since Zito went down in mid-April and certainly won’t be demoted or moved to a different role. It may be Zito, in fact, who is asked to become a long reliever. Yes, an $18.5 million long reliever. That’s his 2011 salary.

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.