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Beimel has elbow discomfort, doubtful for Opening Day

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It sounds like Pirates left-hander Joe Beimel is going to be unavailable when the Bucs’ regular season kicks off on April 1.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Beimel had to be scratched from a one-inning outing against the Red Sox on Sunday due to discomfort in his throwing elbow.

This discomfort isn’t new. Beimel first began feeling tightness in his forearm on March 1 and was shut down for almost two weeks. He returned for a Grapefruit League appearance on March 14 and pitched again on March 17, but he reported renewed soreness when he arrived back at Pirates camp on the morning of March 18. That soreness continues to linger.

“I’m not sure what to say about that at this point,” Beimel told the Tribune-Review on Sunday. “It’s definitely frustrating. I want to be out there pitching. But at the same time, I don’t want to push it too hard to get ready for Opening Day and have a setback and be out for a lot longer. It’s better to take care of it now and go from there.”

The Pirates signed Beimel to a minor league contract this winter that carries a potential $1.75 million salary. He turned in a 3.40 ERA and held left-handed batters to a .653 OPS in 71 appearances last season for the Rockies. When healthy and when used correctly, he can be a fairly useful bullpen tool.

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.