J.J. Hardy is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after an MRI exam revealed a strained oblique muscle, which qualifies as good news considering the initial reports that he could miss six weeks. However, because oblique strains tend to linger 2-3 weeks is hardly a guaranteed return timetable.
Hardy played well for Minnesota last season, hitting .268 with a .714 OPS and his usual excellent defense at shortstop, but the Twins traded him to the Orioles in large part because he missed 61 games with injuries and was often scratched from the lineup even when not on the disabled list.
He lasted just six games before heading to the shelf in Baltimore, and while Hardy was plenty durable for the Brewers in 2007 and 2008 he’s definitely acquired the “injury prone” label at this point. An impending free agent earning $5.85 million this season, Hardy will be replaced in the lineup with fellow elite defender Cesar Izturis.
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.
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.