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Mike Piazza denies steroid use in excerpts from new book

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We already knew that Mike Piazza was going to deny steroid use in his new book, “Long Shot,” which is set to be released next week, but now we have some actual excerpts to chew on. Here’s a preview, courtesy of David Waldstein of the New York Times.

“It shouldn’t be assumed that every big hitter of the generation used steroids,” Piazza says in the book. “I didn’t.”

He admits to using androstenedione as part of a supplement pack until the outcry over Mark McGwire’s use of it forced him to “phase it out.” Baseball later banned the substance.

He also writes that he briefly experimented with amphetamines until they were banned in 2006. And he describes hearing about human growth hormone, doing some research and asking the Mets’ former trainer, Fred Hina, if teams would start distributing it, unaware that it was a banned substance. According to the book, Hina said he would look into it and a day or two later told Piazza it was not a good idea.

While some speculated that the release of the book was delayed until after the Hall of Fame vote because of possible revelations regarding his use of performance-enhancing drugs, Piazza said it was pushed back because he didn’t want it to look like he was campaigning. So much for the conspiracy theorists.

Piazza received 57.8 percent of the vote last month in his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, less than the 75 percent required for enshrinement in Cooperstown. In his first public comments since the vote, Piazza expressed disappointment in missing the cut.

“I won’t deny there is some disappointment, but I understand it’s a process,” he said in the interview, which marked his first public comments since the Hall of Fame vote was announced Jan. 9. “All things considered, I got over 50 percent, and a lot of people were very supportive. I mean, there’s what, almost 600 voters? That’s a lot. I’m on my homeowners board. I know how hard it is to get six people on the same page, let alone 600.”

Piazza, a 12-time All-Star, produced a .308/.377/.545 lifetime batting line and a .922 career OPS over 16 seasons between the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres and Athletics. He holds the all-time record for home runs hit by a catcher.

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.