Hector Sanchez

Hector Sanchez adds two more homers in bid to make Giants

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No catcher has played in 100 major league games in his age-22 season since Brian McCann in 2006. Hector Sanchez probably won’t be the next — actually, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez figures to pull off the feat if he stays healthy this season — but he is bidding to make the Giants as a backup catcher and pinch-hitter at age 22.

The switch-hitting Sanchez homered from both side of the plate after coming off the bench Sunday against the Mariners, giving him three homers and eight RBI in 14 at-bats for the spring.

Even before his outburst, the Giants were giving a lot of thought to carrying Sanchez. As things stand now, both of their best bench bats — Brandon Belt and Mike Fontenot — are lefties, as are the regulars they’re most likely to want to pinch-hit for (shortstop Brandon Crawford and outfielder Nate Schierholtz). They definitely need a better righty stick than Ryan Theriot’s to combat lefty relievers late in games.

That’s where Sanchez could step in. And if he hits, then the Giants would feel a lot better about giving Buster Posey one or two starts per week at first base. The Giants have Eli Whiteside penciled in as Posey’s backup, but Sanchez would be a more intriguing option to start those games when Posey slides over.

One would think that’d have to play into a decision to keep Sanchez. He’s still too young and too raw to be limited to a couple of starts per month and the handful of extra at-bats he’ll get as a pinch-hitter. He’d be better off in the minors if he’s not occupying a significant role in San Francisco.

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)
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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.