Phil Coke

Phil Coke isn’t worried about the Tigers’ closer situation

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Now that it’s increasingly apparent that hard-throwing rookie Bruce Rondon might not be able to handle the job, the Tigers are reportedly trying to acquire a closer. While it’s interesting to see this much uncertainty in the late innings for a team which is built to win right now, lefty reliever Phil Coke doesn’t see what the fuss is all about.

According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Coke expressed confidence today that the Tigers will be fine even if they don’t have a clear cut option at closer to begin the season.

“No, I think we have three guys that have done it already,” Coke said. “We’ve got a guy that we’re working on to have him do it. And if he doesn’t end up being able to do the job, somebody’s going to be there to do the job.

“I don’t understand why there’s a panic button. We’re not going to die. We’re not all going to die if we don’t have a closer. If we go out there and we need to have a guy step into a situation, we will. If it’s a closer by committee, it’s a closer by committee. If [Rondon’s] the closer, he’s the closer.”

Coke only has six regular season saves to his name, but he made a big impression during the postseason after manager Jim Leyland soured on Jose Valverde, notching two saves while allowing just one run over 10 2/3 innings. However, since he’s left-handed, Leyland may prefer to use him in certain matchups. Right-handers Octavio Dotel and Joaquin Benoit have also closed in the past while Al Alburquerque could be a possibility if he gets his control in check. Of course, this potential committee could all be rendered moot if something suddenly clicks with Rondon or the Tigers acquire someone to do the job.

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.