jesse crain getty

No one has any idea when Jesse Crain might pitch for the Astros

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Jesse Crain is approaching one calendar year without pitching, with his last appearance coming on June 29 for the White Sox, which was two teams ago. Now he’s with the Astros and thanks to numerous setbacks in his recovery there’s still no timetable for his return from shoulder and biceps injuries.

Crain signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Astros this offseason and the plan was for him to step into the closer role, prove he’s healthy, and hit the open market again as a free agent.

Instead, here’s what general manager Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about Crain’s status:

Still working on the strengthening and recovering from weakness in his scap [right scapula muscle]. I don’t have a time frame. … I think right now since we’re in the middle of June you would have to assume that him coming back in June is probably not going to happen.

Well, yeah. As of May 2 the Astros were targeting a May 29 return for Crain. And before that they thought he might actually be ready for Opening Day.

Before the injury Crain was an All-Star for the White Sox in 2012, throwing 37 innings with a 0.74 ERA and 46/11 K/BB ratio, which is why the Rays and now the Astros were willing to take fliers on him knowing he might never actually pitch for them.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Wednesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

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.