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Jay Bruce on rough 2014 season: “It’s honestly been the most embarrassing year of my life”

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Jay Bruce finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Saturday’s loss to the Pirates and is now batting .217/.292/.369 with 130 strikeouts in 114 total games this season. He’s sporting a career-worst .661 OPS and it looks like he’ll finish with fewer than 20 home runs for the first time since breaking into the major leagues in 2008. On a related note, Cincinnati is six games below the .500 mark entering play Sunday.

Bruce opened up about his rough 2014 campaign Saturday to beat writer Mark Sheldon of MLB.com

“It’s been miserable. It’s honestly been the most embarrassing year of my life,” Bruce said on Saturday. “But I know this isn’t me. It’s definitely humbling, not that I needed to be more humbled by anything. I feel like I’m pretty self-aware and have some humility. It’s just one of those things. You have to find a way to take some positive out of it to get better. … You just have to keep working and not give into the frustration, to the pressure, to everything that comes with struggling and not being 100 percent. I know it’s been miserable to watch for everybody. I understand it. It’s miserable for me to watch too.”

Bruce missed a chunk of time in May following arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. And while he wouldn’t fully admit that there’s still discomfort in that joint, Bruce did tell Sheldon on Saturday that he is looking “forward to the offseason, getting home and having it get to 100 percent.”

Bruce, 27, is owed $12 million in 2015 and $12.5 million in 2106 with a $13 million club option for 2017.

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)
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.