Miller hot with bat, adjusting to new role
Former Mariners shortstop finds success as DH, works on outfield drills
SEATTLE -- It's been a rough 10 days for Brad Miller, since losing his starting shortstop job to Chris Taylor and being asked to transition to an outfield role for the first time in his baseball career. But Miller isn't one to mope, and he's taken advantage of whatever opportunities have come his way to continue helping the Mariners.
Miller went 2-for-4 with a home run, double and two RBIs while serving as Seattle's designated hitter in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Padres. And while he's been limited to pregame work so far with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke, manager Lloyd McClendon said, "I'm getting close, yeah," when asked if he's pondering giving Miller a shot there soon.
While Taylor has played well defensively, he's hit just .154 in his first seven games at shortstop. Miller has been one of Seattle's better batters in the first six weeks and he went 4-for-7 with three doubles and a home run in the two-game series against the Padres to put his slash line at .250/.318/.427 in 31 games.
His slugging percentage is fourth best on the club behind Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith and Logan Morrison, so it's made sense to keep his bat in the lineup however possible, particularly against right-handed pitchers.
"He's done a nice job," said McClendon. "He's swung the bat pretty decent. He's part of the reason we had a four-game winning streak. I've been pleased with him in that spot."
For his part, Miller has tried to swallow his pride -- having been a shortstop all his life -- and has taken the change as best he can.
"I'm trying to," he said. "It's been kind of a crazy experience, but definitely one that's not new in the baseball world. I'm just trying to take everything in stride, which is easier said than done. But yeah, you show up and bury yourself in your work and keep going."
That work included taking fly balls in left field before Wednesday's game and working on a throwing motion that is much different than the shortstop toss across he's been used to since his Little League days in Florida.
"It's different. It's far out there and you have to really use your whole body," Miller said. "So I'm just trying to clean up some things and get it as good as possible."
Playing DH has been an adjustment as well. Wednesday's game was his fourth in that role and he said he's adapting there as well.
"Obviously DHing, when I come in that it's, 'All right, I'm a hitter today. So take advantage of my opportunity,'" he said. "When I'm in there, really bear down and try to get something going. … I love being out [in the field ] and being in the action. But it is what it is. If I'm DHing, I have to use it to my advantage however I can."
And that's been Miller's mantra since learning of the change. He's a professional baseball player. He wants to play, whatever that requires.
"It's definitely different," he said. "But the main thing is, you've got to show up for work every day and bust your tail. So that's just meant keeping my head down and getting my work in and helping us any way I can."