Aaron Barrett has been knocked down. Not once, but twice. In 2015, in the midst of his second big league season with Washington, the ex-Ole Miss star suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. About a year later, while throwing as part of his rehab program, he suffered a broken humerus, the bone in the upper arm. More surgery. More rehab. Two long years later, in June of this year, Barrett finally made it back to the mound in a professional game. Doctors have told him it’s a minor miracle that he can pitch at all. The Nationals, to their credit, have stayed with him. He has made four appearances over the last three weeks for Auburn in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League. It’s a long way from the big leagues, but the 30-year-old Barrett – who has a 3.47 ERA in 90 MLB games — says he is determined to get back. “I keep telling myself that when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be one hell of a comeback story,” he told milb.com.
The preseason magazines didn’t give Mitch Moreland much attention. Sports Illustrated’s Boston Red Sox preview didn’t mention him at all. The Amory native and former Mississippi State standout had re-signed as a free agent with the Red Sox in mid-December with no guarantee of a spot in the lineup. But Moreland did what he does: Keep grinding. And on Sunday, Moreland got a spot on the American League All-Star roster, voted in by his fellow players. It’ll be the first trip to the Midsummer Classic for the humble nine-year veteran. Funny how things work out. Boston had five players make the All-Star squad. When Boston manager Alex Cora informed the team of this news, his announcement of Moreland’s selection reportedly got the loudest response. “Out of all of them — I’m very proud of all of them — but to tell the team that he’s an All-Star, that was amazing,” Cora said in an mlb.com article. Moreland wasn’t in the lineup for Games 1 or 2 of the season, coming in late as a defensive replacement at first base for Hanley Ramirez. When his at-bats did come, Moreland started slowly. But by mid-May, he had taken the everyday job. Ramirez was released at the end of that month. As a 17th-round draft pick, Moreland said he always felt like he had to battle for everything he got in the game. “I might not be the fastest or have the quickest hands or whatever, but I’m going to work as hard as anybody out there,” he told masslive.com on Sunday. That lunch-pail mentality has served him well. He reached the big leagues with Texas in 2010 – his fourth pro season — and has been in The Show ever since. He’s had some good years. He has 143 career homers. He has a Gold Glove. And, hey now, he’s an All-Star. P.S. Props also to former Mississippi Braves Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Craig Kimbrel and Biloxi Shuckers alum Josh Hader for making the All-Star rosters.