masahiro tanaka getty

Masahiro Tanaka throws 10 fastballs on flat ground, hopes to return to Yankees this season

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Masahiro Tanaka was diagnosed last month with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and that injury pretty much always leads to Tommy John reconstructive surgery, but the right-hander is still holding out hope that rest and rehab will do the trick.

According to beat writer Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the new Yankees ace threw 10 fastballs on flat ground Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore without experiencing any sort of arm discomfort. “It’s feeling really good,” Tanaka told reporters through an interpreter after the workout. “Really, I didn’t feel anything special compared to just regular tossing. I thought everything went well.”

Tanaka is aiming to return to the major league rotation at some point in mid-to-late September.

And while that seems unlikely, the in-contention Yankees aren’t willing to rule it out quite yet.

Tanaka owns a fantastic 2.51 ERA (153 ERA+) and 135/19 K/BB ratio through his first 129 1/3 big league frames. He signed a record seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees this past winter.

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.