Chad Billingsley

Chad Billingsley wants to start for the Dodgers, but is there room for him?

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Last month Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley had to stop his minor-league rehab assignment for Tommy John surgery due to a setback, but he returned to the mound yesterday by throwing a simulated game.

Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that Billingsley will throw at least one more simulated game before trying another minor-league rehab stint, but he generally seemed pleased with how things are going:

My arm is feeling really good right now and I’m real happy the way it responded. It’s not throbbing or anything like that. It wasn’t really fatigued after throwing 30 pitches, so it’s definitely responding very well right now.

Billingsley hasn’t been healthy and effective since 2012, but before the elbow problems he was a very effective mid-rotation starter for the Dodgers with a 3.66 ERA in 1,163 innings from 2006-2012. Because of that success Billingsley understandably wants to return to the majors as a starter, saying: “If they had some other thing [in mind], why would I be doing multiple innings?”

However, right now there’s no clear spot for him in a Dodgers rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Josh Beckett.

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.