Andy Pettitte hopes to return ahead of schedule

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Andy Pettitte, who went on the disabled list Monday with a groin strain, played catch for about five minutes from 60 feet on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Diagnosed with Grade 1 strain, the veteran left-hander isn’t expected to return until mid-to-late August, however he told reporters Saturday that he doesn’t think that timetable is realistic. In a good way.

“It doesn’t seem realistic to me at all, but I haven’t gotten on the
mound,” Pettitte said. “When I get on the mound, I’ll be able to say,
and hopefully I won’t have any setbacks.” 

“I mean, I feel good,” Pettitte said. “I’m not having any problems at all.”

It’s not immediately clear when Pettitte will begin throwing off a mound, but he is scheduled to fly to Tampa on Monday to continue his rehab. The 37-year-old left-hander is eligible to return from the DL on August 2, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the team plans to take a cautious approach with Pettitte, as they don’t want this to be a recurring problem down the stretch.

Sergio Mitre, Pettitte’s temporary replacement in the rotation, gave up seven runs — five earned — over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Royals this afternoon.

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.