Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey

Tim Lincecum starts and Buster Posey sits

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Here we go again: the Tim Lincecum-Buster Posey pairing the Giants did their best to avoid throughout the second half of last season was supposed to be back on this year. Manager Bruce Bochy was very clear on that both over the winter and this spring. And, yet, Hector Sanchez will catch Lincecum for the second straight start Tuesday.

The Giants had a good excuse for not using Posey in Lincecum’s first start: Brandon Belt was sick and the team had the hole at first base anyway. This time, it’s being played as just a routine day off for Posey. But it’s obvious that the Giants are actively trying to stay away from the pairing.

Often working with Posey, Lincecum had a dreadful spring, giving up 18 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. However, in his season debut last week with Sanchez behind the plate, he held the Dodgers to a pair of unearned runs over five innings in a win, though he did walk seven batters. As Grant Brisbee points out over at McCovey Chronicles, some of those walks could be blamed on Sanchez.

Some have suggested there’s real animosity between Lincecum and Posey, but both have denied that. Obviously, it’d be in Lincecum’s best interests to be on the same page with Posey; taking his bat or Brandon Belt’s out of the lineup cuts back on run support. Besides, Posey is a better defensive catcher than Sanchez. But if Lincecum is that much more comfortable with Sanchez, it’s probably not worth it for Bochy to force the issue right now.

Last year, Lincecum had a 5.46 ERA in 15 outings with Posey behind the plate, compared to a 4.87 ERA in 16 outings with Sanchez. He didn’t seem to have any difficulties with Posey before that. In 2011, Lincecum had a 1.55 ERA in nine games with Posey before Posey got hurt. In 2010, he was better with Bengie Molina behind the plate (3.23 ERA to 3.76 ERA).

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.