When you thought it couldn't get worse for Pirates

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Remember that big Manny Ramirez trade last summer? Manny to the Dodgers, Jason Bay to the Red Sox and Andy LaRoche and three prospects to the Pirates.

Fifty-game suspension aside, it worked out pretty well for the Dodgers. And you know Boston is happy with Jason being Jason.

But the Pirates, of course, can’t catch any luck. In addition to a mediocre LaRoche, they received Bryan Morris from the Dodgers, and Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen from the Red Sox.

Moss is, like LaRoche, quite mediocre as a platoon outfielder. Morris can’t throw strikes in Single-A. And Hansen, once thought to potentially be Jonathan Papelbon’s future replacement, was also wild and on the 60-day disabled list.

Through it all, Pirates GM Neal Huntington has remained optimistic.

But now, as it turns out, the news is even worse. According to John Perrotto at Piratesreport.com, Hansen is suffering from a rare condition that affects a group of nerves that send signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand.

Recovery is essentially a crap shoot. It can take months. It can take years. It might not happen at all. All you can do is rest the affected area and hope. As Hansen told Perrotto …

“The muscles in my right shoulder have atrophied so much that there would be almost no way that, even if the nerve healed tomorrow, I would be able to get my strength back in time to pitch in a game this year,” Hansen said.

Hansen said that he might come back as a left-hander, showing his sense of humor while in a tough situation.

“I’m thinking about getting a left-hander’s glove and coming back as a lefty,” Hansen said. “I could pitch until I’m 45 and get guys out with my high school curveball.”

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.