rizzo getty

Anthony Rizzo was the best friend Starlin Castro had last night

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Interesting story from the Cubs’ clubhouse via Patrick Mooney at CSNChicago.com.

Last night, with Dan Uggla at the plate, Starlin Castro fielded a grounder and appeared to lollygag the throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Uggla, not the fastest man around — and maybe not even the fastest man named Uggla in Georgia — was safe with an infield single.

After the inning was over, manager Dale Sveum got in Castro’s face to yell at him for, once again, making a mental mistake.  Except when it was all over, Sveum was apologizing to Castro. Thanks to Rizzo intervening. Here’s Sveuem:

“It was one of those things where I apologized to Castro afterward,” Sveum said. “Rizzo came to his rescue right away and said, ‘Skip, that was my fault. I just told him to give me time.’

And here’s Rizzo:

“I took full blame for it – it’s my fault,” said Rizzo, who was on a defensive shift for that at-bat. “I told him before that to give me a little time, and that’s just me not knowing Uggla’s speed. I thought I had time to get there. I busted there right away, but he just beat the throw … “I want Castro to feel comfortable with any play,” Rizzo said. “Any throw he wants to make, I’ll be there to catch it. If I miss that pick, it’s my fault.”

Two possibilities: (1) it really was Castro’s fault and Rizzo was trying to protect his teammate from the boss; or (2) it was really Rizzo’s fault and, rather than let the easy target Castro take the fall, he stood up to take his medicine.

Either one shows a kind of leadership. The latter one a tad less leadership than simple responsibility, but from a rookie, that’s not always expected.

Whatever you make of it, though, it’s a rather neat and interesting little thing.

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.