Miller, Franklin continue battle for shortstop job
MESA, Ariz. -- Brad Miller didn't play in the Mariners' 3-0 victory over the Cubs on Thursday, which may be the only thing that could cool off the young shortstop's torrid spring.
But despite Miller's .447 batting average and Cactus League-leading slugging percentage, manager Lloyd McClendon insisted again that no decision has been made on his battle with Nick Franklin for the starting job in Seattle's infield.
Miller has put up a 1.000 slugging percentage and also led the Cactus League in triples (four), total bases (38) and run scored (13) going into Thursday's games. He was second in batting average, extra-base hits (nine) and tied for second in home runs (four), third in on-base percentage (.512) and tied for sixth in hits (17) in 13 games.
Franklin went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored against the Cubs as the two youngsters continued alternating starts. Franklin is hitting .243 with three doubles and a home run in 13 games.
Despite the discrepancy in offensive numbers, McClendon didn't bite when asked to compare the duo's performance.
"I think they've both played well to this point," McClendon said. "I'll reserve my thoughts on that for a little longer. But they've both done a nice job. I've been pleased. As far as separation, I don't think they've really separated themselves. I evaluate things a little different than how you guys evaluate it. I don't particularly evaluate on a given performance on any day. I see good things from both of them."
Franklin, 22, hit 12 home runs last year while batting .225/.303/.382 in 369 at-bats last year while playing second base. He offers some power potential and is a switch-hitter, which is a bonus in a lefty-heavy lineup.
Miller, 24, hit .265/.318/.418 with 11 doubles, six triples and eight homers in 306 at-bats last year after taking over at shortstop midseason last year, so he'd shown some potential with the bat. But he added 15-20 pounds with an aggressive winter conditioning program and has been pounding the ball this spring.
"In the offseason, I was thinking, 'Shoot, what do I want to do?' I want to make an impact," Miller said. "I want to be able to drive balls, especially to the opposite field. So I've felt pretty good, just being able to hit it with authority that way. I'm trying to do damage, for sure. That's still the goal. I'm going to go up there and try to drive some balls, so that's been good."