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Scenes from Spring Training: Camelback Ranch is pretty darn impressive

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Camelback Ranch is a nice joint.  As far as player facilities and overall handsomeness of the place, it may be the best in the entire Cactus League.

Like the Dbacks and Rockies place out at Salt River, Camelback has large buildings behind the left and right field walls for the Dodgers and White Sox, respectively. Inside of each building is everything a training baseball team could want, from meeting rooms to training rooms to a comfortable and well-appointed clubhouse.  The chairs may not be quite as cushy as those in which the Rockies and Dbacks sit, but like I said last week, that may not be an altogether bad thing.

The game doesn’t start for a couple hours so who knows how that rolls yet — and I’m partial to the older, cozy joints for actual in-game experience anyway — but you can’t deny the sheer beauty of this ballpark.  My wife works in the architecture/design industry and this place looks a lot like the covers of the highbrow trade magazines floating around her office. Frank Lloyd Wright-meets-HOK-meets-that nice resort you stayed at in Sedona that year.

But rather than stay in the main part of the park and gawk I strolled over to White Sox Central to see what’s going down. You’ve heard my descriptions of these places all week, so I’ll skew photo tour:

That’s a sorta rare sight: an outfielder — Alejandro De Aza — working out with pitchers Chris Sale and Freddy Dolsi. Usually the pitchers and position players stay pretty separate. Separate lockers, separate stretching groups and everything.

That’s Lucas Harrell getting his pitching in.  I sat and watched him a long damn time. There’s nothing more enjoyable for me than to watch a pitcher throw up close. It’s just satisfying on so many levels. Speaking of throwing, this was overheard a few feet over:

Coach 1: Wait, wasn’t Burls supposed to throw? [meaning Mark Buehrle].

Coach 2: I thought so too, but he came out wearing basketball shoes this morning.

Coach 1: Huh. Guess he ain’t throwin’ this mornin’.

This was fun:

There are approximately 467 workout fields at this joint, but for some reason the Dodgers and White Sox were working out on the same one for a while this morning.  Talking to a guy with the Diamondbacks the other day he said that they see Rockies players so seldomly that he tends to forget they share a home with them.

I probably wasn’t supposed to take this picture — no photos inside the building, the sign says — but I couldn’t resist. The Sox have a long hallway with GIGANTIC photos all up and down it. Photos from the 2005 World Series, Buehrle’s perfecto, and just about anything else you can imagine.  The one in the foreground is a photo of Kenny Williams presenting Obama with a Sox jersey.

This was cool too. It hangs on the wall as you enter the White Sox team offices.  Though I sorta wish it was out someplace in the ballpark.  I bet if you polled 100 fans that only a couple would be able to tell you anything about Charlie Lau, and that’s kind of a shame.  Coaches are probably the most invisible men in baseball history.

Game time — my last game down here this year — is 1PM Mountain time.  I’m gonna go wander.

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.