Carlos Guillen knee

Carlos Guillen “more and more likely” to be ready for Opening Day

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As you may recall, Carlos Guillen underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee last September due to an injury suffered on a takeout slide by Brett Gardner last August. There isn’t much of a track record as far as microfracture success stories in MLB, but it sounds as though Guillen is making good progress thus far.

In December, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Tony Paul of the Detroit News that Guillen’s doctor was “very pleased” with his recovery and felt that he was ahead of schedule.

“Right now, the projections are that he would play — this is what the doctor said — in the middle part of spring training,” Dombrowski said. “But I think from our aspect of it, you have to say it’s unknown at this time. I don’t think you can say you’re counting on him to be ready for the beginning of the season.”

That was just about a month ago. Today, Jason Beck of MLB.com writes that Guillen looks “more and more likely to be ready for Opening Day,” though he acknowledges that he will likely be slowed during spring training.

Of course, we can’t just go out and assume that Guillen will be ready for the start of the season. Though the early reports are encouraging, we’re talking about someone who turned 35 years old last September and has struggled to stay healthy over each of the last three seasons. Then there’s also the matter of whether he will be able to handle playing second base. If he isn’t, Will Rhymes, Scott Sizemore and Danny Worth will likely compete for at-bats during spring training.

Guillen batted .273/.327/.419 with six home runs and 34 RBI over 253 at-bats last season. He is owed $13 million in 2011 in the final year of a four-year, $48 million contract.

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.