Parker cleared to begin throwing after surgery

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Diamondbacks top prospect and 2007 first-round pick Jarrod Parker met with Dr. James Andrews yesterday for his four-month checkup following Tommy John elbow surgery and was cleared to begin a throwing program.
Parker has been blogging about the whole rehab process and had this to say after receiving the good news from Andrews:

Being away from the game for the months I have been has really opened my eyes to the things that are taken for granted. Taking ground balls on the mound, going through bunt plays, shagging batting practice and just being a part of the clubhouse. Okay maybe I take that back about shagging BP, but I enjoy running around like a little kid and shagging like an outfielder is fun to me!

He’s definitely someone to root for, but there’s a long way from beginning a throwing program to appearing in a game and Parker stated that his goal is simply “to pitch somewhere this season.”
That likely means a few token appearances in the low minors late in the season and there’s definitely a strong chance that he won’t pitch at all in 2010, yet Parker still ranked 21st on MLB.com’s list of baseball’s best prospects and topped the Diamondbacks’ list at Baseball America.

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.