Big Papi back to putting up big numbers

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Remember when David Ortiz was hitting just .185 with one homer through two months and people were quick to write him off as washed up? Turns out, not so much.
Ortiz went deep twice last night, including a walk-off blast that curled around Pesky Pole in the bottom of the ninth inning, and has now batted .257/.344/.566 with 21 homers, 35 total extra-base hits, and 59 RBIs in 70 games since June 1.
Here’s how those numbers stack up with the rest of the league during that time:

                  HR                        SLG                       RBI
DAVID ORTIZ       21      Kendry Morales   .612      Bobby Abreu       63
Russell Branyan   20      Miguel Cabrera   .578      DAVID ORTIZ       59
Carlos Pena       20      Adam Lind        .575      Kendry Morales    55
Kendry Morales    19      DAVID ORTIZ      .566      Russell Branyan   53
Aaron Hill        18      Hideki Matsui    .563      Juan Rivera       53

Since the calendar flipped to June, Ortiz has the league’s most homers, second-most RBIs, and fourth-highest slugging percentage. And we’re not just talking about a hot streak, as those totals are from nearly half a season’s worth of games. His overall stats remain mediocre and Ortiz obviously isn’t the MVP-caliber offensive force that he was from 2003-2007, but if the Red Sox get into the playoffs you can be certain that no one will be eager to pitch to him.
Incidentally, last night’s blast was the 10th walk-off homer of Ortiz’s career, which puts him two behind the all-time record of 12 shared by Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, and Jimmie Foxx. What, you were expecting Kurt Bevacqua?

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)
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.