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Kendrys Morales: “My goal is to be ready by Opening Day”

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Kendrys Morales hasn’t played since breaking his ankle on May 29 of 2010 and is four months removed from a second season-ending surgery, but it sounds like the Angels first baseman is finally making significant progress in his comeback.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Morales is “walking without a limp” and manager Mike Scioscia described him as “bouncing around more than we anticipated.”

His rehab has advanced to “walking vigorously” on a treadmill and lifting weights, and Morales explained that his “goal is to be ready to go by Opening Day.”

Of course, that was his goal going into spring training this season as well and instead he suffered various setbacks and was finally shut down again, opening the door for Mark Trumbo to emerge as an everyday player and middle-of-the-order slugger in his absence.

At this point it’s tough for the Angels to count on Morales as a key contributor in 2012, but in his last 203 games prior to the injury the switch-hitter batted .302 with 45 homers, 48 doubles, and a .901 OPS.

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)
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.