Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford is ready to return, but the Dodgers aren’t planning to play him

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Carl Crawford’s ankle injury led to Matt Kemp coming off the bench and rejoining the Dodgers’ starting lineup, but now that Crawford is ready to return it sounds like he’ll be the one on the bench most days.

Don Mattingly has gone with Kemp in left field, Andre Ethier in center field, and Yasiel Puig in right field while also giving occasional starts to Scott Van Slyke, and the manager told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that he “is not really planning any big changes” with Crawford set to return as soon as tomorrow.

Mattingly went on to say that “everybody is happier … they don’t have to come to the ballpark looking for the lineup card.” He also indicated that Crawford playing a position other than left field isn’t really an option, and Kemp has started all but one of the past 39 games there while hitting .289 with a .781 OPS. By comparison, Crawford hit just .267 with a .693 OPS in 44 games before the injury.

Circumstances can change quickly, of course, and it only takes one injury for Crawford to be back in the lineup as a regular. He’s also making $20 million this season and is owed another $62 million from 2015-2017, so one way or another a long-term spot on the Dodgers’ bench probably isn’t in the cards.

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.