CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 13:  Seth Maness #43 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Chicago Cubs
at Wrigley Field on August 13, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 8-4.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Seth Maness: the test case in short-circuiting Tommy John surgery

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Disptach has a must-read today about the comeback of former Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness.

Maness injured his UCL last year and went under the knife. But rather than Tommy John surgery, he underwent a potential replacement for that familiar procedure called “primary repair.” Rather than reconstructing the entire ligament it reinforces it at the bone. The key: if it works, it can cut at least five months off of the typical Tommy John recovery time. His surgery was August 18. Goold said he’s poised to pitch from a mound as early as next week.

Maness is the first big league pitcher to try it, so he’s worth watching. That is, if he gets the chance. The Cards non-tendered him last fall, so he’s a free agent. But he’s rehabbing. He may or may not pitch in a big league game in 2017, but if he does, he may blaze a new trail.

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.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.