Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard believes he may have torn Achilles’ tendon

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As if Ryan Howard making the final out of the season for a second straight year wasn’t painful enough for Phillies fans, there’s a chance he could be sidelined when his five-year, $125 million extension kicks in next season.

According to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, Howard believes he may have torn his left Achilles’ tendon while attempting to run out a ground ball with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Friday’s Game 5 loss to the Cardinals. The 31-year-old first baseman went down in a heap as soon as he got out of the batter’s box and wasn’t able to continue running as Nick Punto easily threw him out at first base to end the ballgame and the Phillies’ season.

“I was trying to run, and I just felt this pop,” Howard said. “The whole thing just went numb, like it was on fire. Just tried to keep going, and went down. It literally felt like I was on a flat tire. I tried to get up. Couldn’t go.”

Howard has dealt with bursitis near the tendon for most of the second half of the regular season and was given a cortisone injection prior to the playoffs. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday, but if the Achilles is indeed torn, surgery could cost him a sizable chunk of the 2012 season.

We have plenty of time to talk about what this could mean for the Phillies moving forward, but if Howard needs to miss a couple of months, we could see John Mayberry Jr. fill in at first base while Domonic Brown gets a chance in left field.

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.