Chris Duncan

Former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan overcoming brain tumor

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The baseball family that includes ex-Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and his sons, former Cardinals outfielder Chris and the still active major leaguer Shelley, suffered a big blow last year when Dave’s wife, Jeanine, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dave was away from the  Cardinals for much of the 2011 season, and he remained on a leave of absence for the duration of 2012.

While Jeanine has continued her fight with cancer this year, the family got an even bigger shock at the end of September, as Chris was diagnosed with a brain tumor of his own, he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Flown down on a Cardinals’ owner’s private jet, Duncan received treatment at the same Duke University medical facility that his mother did. Surgery took place Oct. 10, and now he’s getting chemo.

“They took out 95 percent of the tumor, there was a little bit left,” Chris Duncan said. “They said most of the tumor was Stage 2 cancer, there was a little piece that was a Stage 4 — but that was a small piece of it.”

The tumor was in his speech area of the brain, so he wasn’t able to talk for the first week after the operation.

“I remembered the surgery the next day, but the swelling grew, then I was out of it for a week,” he said. “Then I woke up and I started gradually getting better. I remember waking up and seeing the Cardinals led the Giants 3-1. I didn’t remember anything about the Washington series.”

Doctors aren’t sure if Duncan and his mother were both exposed to something that led to the tumors. Chris did get a lot of X-rays for his neck problems that ended his career, and he wonders if that has something to do with it.

Chris, who is just 31, played five years with the Cardinals before having to call it quits, hitting .257/.348/.458 with 55 homers in 1,147 at-bats. He’s currently doing sports talk radio in St. Louis, and he’s hoping to return to the air next week.

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.