There’s a chilling little story coming out of Toronto as Mike
Wilner, who covers the Blue Jays for Toronto’s The Fan 590-AM, was suspended for the team’s weekend series against the Yankees following a confrontation with Jays manager Cito
Gaston last week. The “brief but tense” exchange happened on Wednesday, when Wilner asked Gaston about his bullpen usage. The reason his suspension is chilling is because both the Blue Jays and the radio station are owned by Rogers Communications.
Did someone at the team complain to Rogers execs about Wilner’s questioning of Gaston, leading to his suspension? That’s what the sources to the various reports of the event are suggesting. Though it would be strange if Wednesday’s thing — which most reports I’ve read described as a bit tense, but nothing crazy — was the kicker, as Wilner has been highly critical and often downright hostile to Gaston in the past. Indeed, earlier this season he either felt the need or was forced to apologize to Gaston on his blog for his sharp comments relating to Lyle Overbay.
I don’t know what happened behind the scenes here, but I hope that neither the the Jays nor Gaston had anything to do with this. Sure, no one likes to be criticized, but you gotta have a thicker skin about this stuff, and going after the media like this makes you look really bad.
Same goes for Rogers too, who I hope would realize that a conglomerate can’t expect its media holdings to have any credibility if they are punished for criticizing the sports teams they are tasked with covering. A certain decorum can be expected, sure, but if your media guys can’t ask tough questions, they’re basically a glorified P.R. department, aren’t they?
Now, let me give you a piece of mind about Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Bob Costas and the entire cast of “The Office” . . .
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.
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.