82nd MLB All-Star Game - Batting Practice

Clayton Kershaw presented with the Branch Rickey Award

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw already has plenty of awards to fill up a trophy case. The lefty just won his second NL Cy Young award, he took home the NL Gold Glove award for pitchers in 2011, and he won Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award last year. He was given another award last night — the Branch Rickey Award, for service above self, presented by the Rotary Club of Denver.

Patrick Sullivan of the Denver Post summarized some of the many things Kershaw and his wife Ellen do to give back:

So what have the Kershaws done in their early 20s? They started Kershaw’s Challenge, a foundation that seeks to transform the lives of at-risk children and communities.

Their cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” has built and sustained an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia called “Arise Home.” They are leaving for Zambia on Wednesday.

The orphanage is now home to nine children who came from desperate situations. This year, their goal is to rebuild a community school in the heart of Lusaka, adding five additional classrooms and paying salaries for higher educated faculty. They are also drilling a new water well to bring fresh water to the town. Each year, the Kershaws travel to Africa to visit with the children and bring awareness to the issues of diseases and infections related to HIV and AIDS.

Congratulations to Kershaw on the honor. It’s always nice to hear about players using their stature to go above and beyond the call of duty to give back.

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.