Ump's needless ejection of Beltre bad luck for Red Sox

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On Tuesday night, Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was ejected from a 16-inning loss to the Astros when he argued a questionable check-swing strike call by third base umpire Scott Barry. The hook came quickly, without mercy, and forced the Phillies to move Raul Ibanez to first base and pitcher Roy Oswalt to the outfield.

The Phillies would eventually lose the contest, 4-2.

On Wednesday, an umpire again took center stage when Boston third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected for – well really for nothing. Take it away, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe:

So it turns out Adrian Beltre was ejected because he told umpire Dan Bellino that he wasn’t talking to him.

After he struck out in the second inning, Beltre was talking to Felix Hernandez in the Seattle dugout, playfully telling him in Spanish that would hit a home run his next time up. As the two went back and forth, Bellino somehow thought Beltre was speaking to him.

When Beltre told him twice that he wasn’t, he was tossed out.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Beltre said. “I never said anything to him. Nothing.”

One thing Abraham fails to mention is that Beltre had complained loudly about the third strike called on him in the second inning – a pitch right down the middle at the knees, mind you – so the Red Sox third baseman isn’t completely innocent in all of this. Watch the video here.

That being said, ejecting a guy for saying “I wasn’t talking to you,” is out of line. Nobody goes to a game to watch an umpire, especially a minor league fill-in umpire, as Bellino is. Without their star third baseman, the Red Sox went on to lose to the Mariners 4-2, missing a chance to pull within 4 1/2 games of co-AL East leaders New York and Tampa Bay.

That doesn’t mean the Red Sox would have won the game if Beltre had played the entire game. But you hate to see a quick hook from a minor league umpire affecting a playoff race in any form.

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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.