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Joey Votto to undergo knee surgery Tuesday, out at least three weeks

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The Reds entered tonight’s action one game in front of the Pirates in the National League Central, but they’ll have to get by without their best hitter for a while.

The Reds just announced that Joey Votto will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He’s expected to miss the next three to four weeks. This confirms an earlier report by MLB Network’s Dan Plesac.

Votto initially suffered the injury on June 29 against the Giants, but he managed to avoid a stint on the disabled list and participate in the All-Star Game as scheduled. However, he evidently can’t play through the pain any longer.

Todd Frazier is filling in at first base tonight against the Diamondbacks and figures to stick there if Scott Rolen is healthy enough to play. That’s no sure thing, of course. Votto’s surgery could increase the Reds’ interest in adding a bat leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Votto, 28, is hitting .342/.465/.604 with 14 home runs, 49 RBI and a 1.069 OPS in 86 games this season. He leads the National League with 66 walks.

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.