Dallas Braden and A-Rod: what a difference a week makes

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Braden celebrates.jpgIt was just over two weeks ago when Alex Rodriguez walked over Dallas Braden’s mound — maybe on purpose, maybe not — kicking off a petty little feud in which no one has come off looking particularly classy.

Braden barked about it being “his mound” like he was unhinged. A-Rod looked like a pompous ass making reference to Braden’s “handful of wins” after the game. Braden looked like a low-rent wannabe something or other with his “we don’t do much talking in the 209” rebop last week.  A-Rod continued the pattern of classlessness just this weekend by claiming he didn’t want to comment any further because he didn’t want to extend Braden’s “15 minutes of fame,” clearly implying that Braden wouldn’t have any basis for fame separate and apart from that which A-Rod gave him.

That’s certainly not the case anymore. Braden is part of one of baseball’s most exclusive fraternities, becoming one of the nineteen men in history to throw a perfect game.

A-Rod seems to sense that the narrative has shifted.  Reached by reporters at Fenway Park immediately after the perfect game, Rodriguez said: “Good for him.
He threw a perfect game, and even better, he beat the Rays.”
That’s about the best answer one can give in the situation. He acknowledged the feat and kept it to baseball. The matter, at least from Rodriguez’s perspective, seems to be closed.

For his part, Braden didn’t say anything provocative after the game, holding true to the alleged rep of his home area code and tacitly agreeing with A-Rod to bury the hatchet. That is, unless Rodriguez is going to respond to Braden’s grandmother.  She was at the game and, according to Susan Slusser of San Francisco Chronicle, had this to say the moment someone shoved a microphone into her face: “stick it, A-Rod!”

That’s funny, but ultimately inconsequential, because I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that A-Rod isn’t about to go after Braden’s grandmother.  It’s Mother’s Day. Let her have the last word.

And let us close the book on the Braden-Rodriguez feud. Each got their shots in, each had their bad moments, but it ended with a perfect game on a sparkling Sunday afternoon, and that means baseball wins.

But then again, baseball always wins, doesn’t it?

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.