Brad Mills: “I wish the best for the players and the fans”

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The Astros fired manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham late Saturday night after falling to 39-82 on the season with an eight-run loss to the Diamondbacks.

Here’s the reaction from Mills after his meeting with members of the Houston front office, courtesy of MLB.com beat writer Brian McTaggart:

“You know when you’re having a rough season and everybody always brings it up, nobody lets you forget it. I love the players, I love the effort they gave every day. They’ve been great to me and how they’ve gone about everything and I love our fans. The fans we have here in Houston are the best and they’ve been great to me as well and I appreciate them an awful lot and I wish the best for the players and the fans as we move forward.

We’re going to move forward with some things and see what happens. The biggest thing is I’d like to go see my son play. For years, I’ve never really gotten an opportunity to watch him play and I want to see my daughter in law and see my granddaughter and watch him play a little bit and go from there.”

Mills’ son Beau is currently starting at first base for the Reds’ Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, Florida. As of Saturday night, the 26-year-old was batting .269/.348/.503 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 48 games.

Mills, who turns 56 years old in January, had a 171-274 record in his three seasons with the ‘Stros.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.