He's alive! Carlos Beltran finally returns from knee surgery

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Mets fans probably started to wonder if this day would ever come, but Carlos Beltran has finally been activated from the disabled list. For real.
He missed the entire first half following January knee surgery that was initially expected to sideline him for just 8-12 weeks, but Jerry Manuel has thrown him right back into the fire as the Mets’ center fielder and cleanup hitter tonight against Tim Lincecum.
Angel Pagan slides over to right field after starting 72 of 88 games in center, with Jeff Francoeur taking his measly .695 OPS to the bench after starting all but seven first-half games. Presumably he’ll still replace the switch-hitting Pagan in right field against left-handed pitchers, and the Mets face Barry Zito tomorrow and Jonathan Sanchez on Sunday.
Obviously it’s tough to know what to expect from Beltran at this point, but he played 14 games while rehabbing in the minors at Single-A and hit .367 with five doubles. Based on that his bat sure seems ready, but his speed, defense, and durability are seemingly much bigger question marks.

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.