Jason Lane

Jason Lane made his starting debut today. He lost, but pitched pretty darn well

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Jason Lane spent seven seasons as a hitter. Not a terrible one, either. He posted an .815 OPS, hit 26 homers, and had 78 RBI in 145 games for a pennant winner in 2005. But after that he crashed hard and was done as a big league bat.

He reinvented himself as a pitcher in the Padres organization and was called up in June. Today he got his first start at age 37. And it wasn’t half bad: six innings pitched, six hits, one earned run, two strikeouts and a couple of walks. He also went 1 for 2 at the plate. He didn’t get the win, however, as (a) he was backed by the San Diego Padres’ offense; and (b) Ervin Santana tossed eight shutout innings while striking out 11.

But regardless of what happened with the decision, give it the heck up for Jason Lane. A guy who had every reason to pack it in six or seven years ago but didn’t. A guy who started from scratch and then scratched his way back to the bigs. That’s some serious moxie. And quite a story.

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.