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A sleepy morning in Angels camp

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Not a lot happening around here today. The biggest topic of conversation surrounds when Albert Pujols is going to run the bases. Mike Scioscia said “this weekend.” Then, a few minutes later, Pujols was down by third base jogging and rounding the bag. A debate ensued among reporters as to whether that constituted “running the bases.”  It was decided that, no, that did not count.

Mike Scioscia used to give his little press availability in his office, but now he does it outside:

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It’s my third straight year of coming to Tempe, and for the third straight year Scioscia corrected a reporter who said that some random problem X was the team’s biggest issue, saying “no, personally I worry about the bullpen.” I think all managers worry about the bullpen. Even managers with good bullpens worry about the bullpen. I imagine it’s no coincidence that managers have more influence over the bullpen than anything else. Managers are all zen and don’t worry as much about that which they cannot control. Or something.

Soon that little scrum devolved into Scioscia and Pedro Gomez discussing their favorite restaurants in Phoenix. Scioscia’s is Chelsea’s Kitchen. Gomez’s is Trattoria Arrivederci. If you go, tell ’em Pedro sent you. But you can’t prove that.

Josh Hamilton was teaching Jered Weaver how to hit lefties here:

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I guess it could conceivably come up in interleague play. If I’m Scioscia, though, I tell Weaver to keep the bat on his shoulder, don’t get beaned and get his butt back to the dugout.

Pujols looked fine taking grounders:

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Guy could fall out of bed and play baseball. It’s hard to describe, but just seeing him do, well, anything, makes you realize how friggin’ talented he is. He looks better than anyone else simply pulling his windbreaker over his jersey.

Coach Dino Ebel hits flies to guys:

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They don’t seem to have one of those fly ball machines here. Maybe Casey Kotchman’s fly ball machine injury has fundamentally changed teams’ relationship with technology. I dunno.

The red rock/butte backdrop both here and at Phoenix Municipal where the A’s play scream Cactus League more than anything else here. I still remember the first time I saw Cactus League highlights on ESPN or whatever back in the 80s. In my mind, they all look like this:

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From the players’ parking lot, this stuck out in the sea of Escalades and Tahoes:

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Someone is trying to keep a low profile.

Really, not much happening here today. Just a nice, 70-something degree day without a cloud in the sky and a baseball game starting in an hour or so. Life is hard.

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.