Justin Duchscherer starts throwing again after hip surgery

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Justin Duchscherer missed all of last year following elbow surgery and made just five starts this year before undergoing season-ending hip surgery in June, but the oft-injured right-hander has begun throwing again as part of a six-month recovery timetable.
Here’s what Duchscherer told Jane Lee of MLB.com about his plans for next season:

When I’m healthy, I’ve always proven that I can pitch. The thing I have to prove is that I can stay healthy. I haven’t shown that yet. That’s the worst part about that, being a baseball player and knowing I can do it but not physically being able to. So that’s my goal, whether it’s here or somewhere else. I’m a baseball player, and I’d like to pitch at least a few more years. I’m too young to try to move on to something else.

Duchscherer is right in that he’s never ceased being an effective pitcher despite a seemingly never-ending assortment of injuries, posting an ERA under 3.50 in all but one of his last seven seasons. Of course, he’s thrown more than 30 innings just once since 2005.
Duchscherer told Lee that he’d be “open” to re-signing with the A’s, but also questioned whether he’d still be a fit given Oakland’s collection of young pitching. He’ll no doubt have to settle for a minor-league contract or a major-league deal that’s light on guaranteed money and heavy on innings-based incentives after earning $5.65 million for throwing all of 28 innings during the past two seasons.

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.