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Alex Cobb faces hitters for first time since concussion

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Alex Cobb hasn’t pitched in a game since taking an Eric Hosmer line drive off the side of his head back on June 15. But his return is probably nearing.

According to beat writer Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the right-hander threw live batting practice on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field without a protective screen and reported no mental or physical discomfort. It was his first time facing live hitters since he was diagnosed with a concussion.

“It’s a relief,” Cobb told reporters after the workout. “When the incident happens, you think the worst naturally, so being back out there kind of settles your nerves. And you realize that you can do it again. So I’m happy.”

Cobb is scheduled to throw another round of batting practice on Thursday in Port Charlotte, Florida — the site of Rays spring training. If that goes smoothly, he should be cleared for a minor league rehab start.

The 25-year-old had a 3.01 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 76/23 K/BB ratio through 83 2/3 innings this season.

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.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.