Joey Votto was saved by his minor league host family

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The Dayton Daily News has an interesting sidebar to the Joey Votto story: a profile of his former minor league host family
who provided him a lifeline when he was at his psychological nadir.
It’s interesting and poignant as it relates to Votto, but it’s plenty
entertaining too as a result of the background it provides about how
guys in the low bush leagues live. Here’s the father of the host
family, explaining part of the rationale for taking in ballplayers:

“Back then our daughters were maybe 12 and 16, and I didn’t want
them to grow up naive. People said, ‘How could you let three
ballplayers and the team trainer live with you?’ I said, ‘Well, the
girls are kind of ugly. I’m trying to help them out.’ ”

He’s not serious, of course, though the article’s next best quote may give anyone pause before taking one of these guys in:

Over the years, they’ve had about a dozen players live with them,
including Votto, who spent his entire 2004 season with the Dragons at
their home.

“Yeah, they had three rules,” he said with a laugh. “No drinking. No girls. Don’t mess with the daughters.”

Linda smiled when his recollection later was relayed to her: “He’s
exactly right, but let me tell you something. Over the course of years,
all of those rules have been broken, and one player broke all three at
once.”

This is why I (a) don’t let my daughter hang out with those t-ball hooligans; and (b) keep my shotgun loaded at all times.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.

Nationals acquire Derek Norris from Padres

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres prepares to bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on October 1, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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According to an official team announcement, the Nationals have acquired catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Pedro Avila.

Norris, 27, batted a career-low .186/.225/.328 in 458 PA with the Padres in 2016. He hit career highs with 14 home runs and nine stolen bases, but his dismal production rate through the second half of the season spelled the end of his time in a starting role in San Diego. Norris’ departure from the Padres also confirms 24-year-old Austin Hedges‘ spot on the roster, as reported by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell:

Heading to San Diego is 19-year-old right-handed starter Pedro Avila, who was acquired by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2014. The 19-year-old spent his first season in Single-A Hagerstown and went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.42 K/BB rate in 93 innings.