After Franklin Morales drilled Luke Scott in the top of the ninth — apparent retaliation for a plunking of Dustin Pedroia earlier — benches cleared in Friday’s game between the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park, which Tampa Bay went on to win 7-4.
Some bad blood likely carried over from last week’s series in Tampa Bay, in which the Rays hit Adrian Gonzalez and Morales later came back and plunked Will Rhymes. It was a similar scene tonight, with Pedroia getting hit and the Red Sox later going after Scott. Morales actually threw behind Scott once before coming back and hitting him in the knee.
The oddity is that neither Morales nor Scott, who held on to his bat while jawing at Morales after the plunking, was ejected from the game. Morales certainly deserved to be tossed; his intentions were clear after he threw behind Scott. Scott didn’t really do much wrong himself.
Also unusual: the coaching staffs seemed much more interested in mixing it up than the players did after the benches cleared. Rays coaches George Hendrick and Jim Hickey and Red Sox coach Tim Bogar — a former Rays coach — and manager Bobby Valentine seemed more belligerent that anyone else.
After things appeared to settle down and the parties returned to their dugouts, there was another incident, this one apparently involving some fans, that had B.J. Upton coming back out of the Rays dugout and pointing up to the stands. We may hear more about what happened there after the game.
Morales went on to finish the inning after order was restored. Still, he could well find himself suspended for a few games for his actions tonight.
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.