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Matt Garza to return from disabled list Tuesday, Carlos Villanueva headed to bullpen

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Matt Garza has been cleared to return from the disabled list and will make his season debut Tuesday against the Pirates, according to CSNChicago.com.

Garza didn’t throw a pitch after July 21 last season due to a stress reaction in his elbow and was forced to begin this season on the disabled list due to a strained lat. The 29-year-old right-hander posted a 1.17 ERA and 11/4 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings over four rehab starts, including six scoreless innings with Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. Garza is due to become a free agent after the season, so he could become useful trade bait leading up to the July 31 deadline if he can prove healthy and effective.

In order to clear a spot for Garza in the rotation, Carlos Villaneuva will be moved to the bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander has a solid 3.93 ERA and 36/14 K/BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings over eight starts this season, but Travis Wood and Scott Feldman have had better results and Edwin Jackson isn’t going anywhere after he joined the club on a four-year, $52 million contract this winter. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Villanueva will be available for any relief situation, not just as a longman.

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.