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Eager to get back in mix, Miller reaches 4 times

Second baseman collects first hit since May 15, adds RBI, 2 walks
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- While the Rays' offense stalled at some inopportune moments on Friday, Brad Miller had no trouble reacquainting himself with the basepaths in his first game back from the disabled list.

Miller had three hitless performances sandwiched between two DL stints before he slashed a double to left field for his first hit since May 15 in the second inning of Friday's 8-3 loss to the Red Sox. He followed that knock with an RBI single in the fourth, and added two walks to reach base a season-high-tying four times.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- While the Rays' offense stalled at some inopportune moments on Friday, Brad Miller had no trouble reacquainting himself with the basepaths in his first game back from the disabled list.

Miller had three hitless performances sandwiched between two DL stints before he slashed a double to left field for his first hit since May 15 in the second inning of Friday's 8-3 loss to the Red Sox. He followed that knock with an RBI single in the fourth, and added two walks to reach base a season-high-tying four times.

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Miller's return came at the perfect time for the Rays, who placed Tim Beckham on the DL with left ankle soreness Friday to make room for Miller. Beckham had played second base since Tampa Bay traded for shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.

For the time being, second base belongs to Miller.

"He's going to be in the lineup a lot," manager Kevin Cash said. "That's probably the brightest spot of the day: Brad, overall, his at-bats."

Miller was itching to get back on the field after he lost 16 games in May to a left abdominal strain and 25 more in June with a right groin strain.

"Obviously, [I was] pretty excited to get back here with the guys and kind of join in on the fun," Miller said. "They've been playing great baseball, so to get out there and feel good and run around was a lot of fun."

Miller adds even more punch against right-handed pitchers for a team that entered Friday's game with 102 homers against righties, fifth-most in the Majors. Twenty-seven of Miller's 30 homers last season came against righties.

Even given Tampa Bay's offensive prowess this year, the Rays have managed to look even deeper on paper much of the season. The Rays have yet to field a fully healthy lineup. Miller and Wilson Ramos are back on the field, but now the Rays are waiting on Beckham, Colby Rasmus and Kevin Kiermaier, among others, to return.

"We need to get everybody back to full strength," Miller said.

But once the Rays do that, "We're very deep," Miller said. "Obviously I was just in [Triple-A] Durham too, there's a lot of guys [there] that are going to help us. And if you want to be a championship team, and a team that plays deep in the playoffs, you've got to be deep."

As the Rays slowly heal, Miller is the latest player back into the fold on an offense which stands to gain even more pop should he stay healthy this time around.

"I think we're all confident that Brad's pretty driven to get back here and kind of join the fun," Cash said. "Because this offense, they enjoy working together and putting up those big innings, and Brad's going to be a big part of that."

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Tampa Bay Rays, Brad Miller