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Astros catcher Jason Castro likely to undergo knee surgery

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Astros manager Brad Mills announced today that 24-year-old starting catcher Jason Castro will likely need surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

According to Mills there’s no timetable yet for Castro’s recovery because “they’re going to have to see once they get in there how much damage and what they have to do.” As the photo to the right shows, Castro suffered the injury while running to first base during Wednesday’s game.

Castro was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft and made his big-league debut in June of last season, hitting just .205 with a .573 OPS in 67 games. Houston is committed to making him the everyday catcher this season and his minor-league numbers are significantly better, although still don’t suggest much star potential.

Humberto Quintero was the Astros’ primary catcher prior to Castro’s call-up last season and would likely be pushed back into a similar role, with one-time prospect J.R. Towles perhaps getting a final shot to show that he belongs in the majors as a backup. Quintero is 31 years old and has hit just .232 with a .593 OPS in his career, but even those putrid numbers look good compared to Towles’ career .189 batting average, although he’s at least put up some good numbers at Triple-A in between the various big-league struggles.

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.