bobby valentine reuters

Bobby V. is not too concerned about shortstop

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Red Sox fans don’t seem to be terribly pleased with the team’s current shortstop options: Mike Aviles and Nick Punto.  But Bobby Valentine is kind of cool with it:

“I’ve never seen any of the guys play except for Punto a little on television. We’ve got seven weeks together, we’ll practice together, we’ll play together, that will all work itself out,” Valentine said. “I think it’s always good for guys to get a chance to work and think they have a chance to make the team so they work a little harder.”

And maybe he should be. As Alex Speier of WEEI points out in a great column today, there is no reason to assume that a team can’t win a world championship with veterans, castoffs and glorified utility guys playing at short. Happens all the time, in fact.

If I had to guess I’d say that the Sox are going to keep close tabs on any shortstop who may become available as the season progresses. But really, there are worse things that can happen to be somewhat unsettled there.  Like, you know, having a lot of question marks in the rotation.

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.