“This is what I was born to do. I’m a baseball player.”

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AP writer Howie Rumbergap — which is a FANTASTIC sportswriter name, by the way — talks to a number of former big baseball names who are now the marginal types in spring training camps across Florida and Arizona.  The Mark Prior/Mike Hampton/Bartolo Colon/Eric Chavez types.  After noting that, despite the fact that many of them had either quit or said they would quit before, they’re all still plugging away, Eric Chavez explains it:

“This is what I was born to do. I’m a baseball player. I’m not going to be able to do it a lot longer in life and I just want enjoy it and try to finish it out as best as I can.”

This puts a slightly different spin on the “he’s a ballplayer” stuff from the other day.  One that suggests commitment, be it quixotic or otherwise.

These guys have way more of their identity tied up in what they do than the vast majority of us who sit in front of computers and crack wise all day.  That’s both good and bad, of course, depending on how extreme the commitment and whether it’s a motivating force or one that skews perspective and leads one to make bad life choices.

But it’s one of the many things that draws me to baseball.  These guys are just wired differently than you and I. And I find it fascinating.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.