Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the Rays-Rangers series tonight:
TAMPA BAY RAYS TEXAS RANGERS
1. Sean Rodriguez, SS 1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. B.J. Upton, CF 2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Evan Longoria, 3B 3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Ben Zobrist, 2B 4. Michael Young, 1B
5. Johnny Damon, DH 5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Kelly Shoppach, C 6. Mike Napoli, C
7. Casey Kotchman, 1B 7. Nelson Cruz, RF
8. Desmond Jennings, LF 8. Yorvit Torrealba, DH
9. Matt Joyce, RF 9. Craig Gentry, LF
SP Matt Moore, LHP SP C.J. Wilson, LHP
Pretty standard lineup for the Rangers versus left-handed pitching, with the exception of Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli being in there together. Mike Scioscia’s lack of faith in Napoli defensively led to him leaving the Angels, yet Ron Washington has chosen to use Napoli at catcher and Torrealba at DH. With tons of right-handed power the Rangers’ lineup is an extremely tough first assignment for Rays left-hander Matt Moore.
Tampa Bay’s lineup versus lefty C.J. Wilson is much less standard, as it includes three left-handed hitters in the bottom five spots. Mostly that just means manager Joe Maddon has opted not to platoon Matt Joyce, who hit just .217 off lefties. Wilson has a nearly identical platoon split this season, faring equally well versus righties and lefties, but he was almost unhittable versus lefties in 2010.
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.