Drew Storen AP

Drew Storen ready to face hitters following elbow surgery

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The last time we checked in on Drew Storen, he just resumed throwing off a mound following April surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Now he’s ready to take the next step.

According to Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com, Storen is scheduled to throw live batting practice tomorrow for the first time since surgery. He’ll start out by throwing all fastballs. The 24-year-old right-hander threw his slider off the mound for the first time yesterday and estimates that he’s currently throwing at about 85-90 percent.

“I’m still making progress every day and I’m having no pain,” Storen said. “I’m starting to get the feeling that I felt before I got hurt, so I’m really happy with where I’m at, but it’s still a day-by-day process.”

Storen still has a few hurdles to cross, including a minor league rehab assignment, but the Nationals are hopeful that he’ll be ready to return around the All-Star break. Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez were each given chances to close games in Storen’s absence, but Tyler Clippard has emerged as a dominant closer recently, going 10-for-10 in save chances. The 27-year-old right-hander has logged 13 1/3 scoreless innings dating back to May 16.

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.