Phillies may not hand closer duties back to Brad Lidge right away

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Brad Lidge tossed a scoreless inning at Single-A yesterday in his third rehab appearance and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said afterward that “he threw extremely well.”
“He took a nice step forward,” Amaro said. “His slider was tighter. He had better location. I guess his velocity was 90-91. He felt good. He was much sharper and crisper.”
However, when asked about the Phillies’ plans once Lidge is ready to come off the disabled list manager Charlie Manuel told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he may not be handed the closer job right away:

We could, depending on where he’s at and how he’s doing. It’s something to talk about. But I don’t know what we’re going to do. It depends on how we’re doing and where we’re at with our pitching. We want to do what’s best for Lidge and the team. First, we’ve got to get him back. We want him healthy, feeling 100 percent. If he’s 100 percent, he’ll have a good feeling about himself.

Amaro had a slightly different take, saying: “He’s our closer. He’s been our closer. He never stopped being our closer.” However, the GM also added that the decision is ultimately Manuel’s to make. “He’ll be used in whatever way Charlie and [pitching coach] Rich [Dubee] feel is best for the club. I assume he’ll be our closer, but it’s up to those guys.”
It’d be one thing if Lidge was coming back from an injury after his amazing 2008 season, but instead he’s coming back following one of the worst seasons by a closer in baseball history. Even without the injuries involved the Phillies would be right to think twice about returning him to the closer role after 11 blown saves and an absurd 7.21 ERA in 58.2 innings.

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.