Tampa Bay Rays v Milwaukee Brewers

Did Joe Maddon lie to the umpires last night?

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Weirdness in the Rays-Brewers game, as Sam Fuld — who had pinch hit for reliever J.P. Howell in the top of the eighth — came out to the mound to warm up as the relief pitcher in the bottom of the inning.  He did not face any batters, however, as manager Joe Maddon pulled him for reliever Cesar Ramos after Ramos had time to warm up.

Except here’s the problem: the rules state that if a reliever — in this case Fuld — warms up, he has to actually pitch to a batter.  How did he get out of it? The umpires were told that Fuld had “soreness” and this had to be lifted because of an injury.  This despite the fact that Maddon was pretty expansive after the game in saying that he never intended to let Fuld pitch at all and his presence out there was merely to give Ramos more time.

To sum up: Fuld warming up was a stalling tactic to give Ramos more time, and Maddon — or someone — apparently lied to the umps about Fuld being hurt so that the switch could be made before Fuld had to face anyone.  The umps, as they explained after the game, have to take the manager at his word when an injury is mentioned because, really, they can’t be in the business of judging which injuries are legit and which ones aren’t.

Is this worthy of a federal case? Not really, and it likely had no impact whatsoever on the game. But if I’m Joe Torre or someone I have a talk with Joe Maddon about this, because it looks like he was playing fast and loose, and appearances sort of matter.

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.