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Nolan Ryan says he was “dropped into Jon Daniels’ sandbox” in Texas

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Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has an interview with Nolan Ryan and his son Reid, both of whom are helping run the Astros now. Most of the article is about Nolan’s return to Houston and his role with the Astros. But there was the obligatory question about why his time in Texas came to an end. An end with no small amount of acrimony between Ryan and GM Jon Daniels.

Ryan plays the diplomat to some degree, saying that he was brought in as Rangers president after Daniels’ team was already in place:

I haven’t really commented on that,” Ryan said. “But when I came into that situation, I was dropped in J.D.’s sandbox. He had his organization and his group of people, and all of a sudden — boom! — Nolan Ryan was there. It was a dimension they didn’t anticipate. It probably wasn’t handled properly with my coming in.”

At the risk of seeing something that Ryan didn’t intend to communicate, I will note that I’ve rarely heard the word “sandbox” used in a business context by the person whose area of responsibilities is being described. Usually it’s someone else referring to someone else’s domain mildly derisively with some hint of “they don’t play nice and share” and some implication that said domain is narrowly and arbitrarily drawn. A businesspeak version of “I wasn’t the problem, they and their little games were.”

Maybe that’s not what Ryan is saying. But I also don’t feel like Ryan — based on what some of his media surrogates in Dallas said after he left the Rangers — believes that he was the problem in Texas.

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.