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Miley inks deal, hops into Crew's rotation race

Veteran lefty among six competing for two open spots
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- The ink was barely dry on Wade Miley's Minor League contract when the Brewers slotted him right into the race for the rotation.

Coming off a subpar season with the Orioles that shook Miley's confidence, the 31-year-old finalized a deal with Milwaukee on Friday that included an invitation to big league camp and a chance to seize one of two open rotation spots. By the time he took the mound a few hours later for his first bullpen session in front of Brewers coaches, Miley was already scheduled for a Cactus League outing.

PHOENIX -- The ink was barely dry on Wade Miley's Minor League contract when the Brewers slotted him right into the race for the rotation.

Coming off a subpar season with the Orioles that shook Miley's confidence, the 31-year-old finalized a deal with Milwaukee on Friday that included an invitation to big league camp and a chance to seize one of two open rotation spots. By the time he took the mound a few hours later for his first bullpen session in front of Brewers coaches, Miley was already scheduled for a Cactus League outing.

"We need to get him on the mound because we need to make evaluations on guys like that," manager Craig Counsell said. "He's ready to do that, which is a big plus because we don't have to space that out. He'll be able to get the right amount of looks and innings as he should."

Miley joined five other pitchers vying for the two openings. The way Counsell sees it, club officials will have to start to pare that group after about three turns because the starters will eat up an increasing percentage of innings.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

In a frustrating offseason for many of baseball's free agents, the 31-year-old Miley was ready for anything. That's why he got into game shape well before signing a Minor League pact with Milwaukee that would pay a $2.5 million base salary in the Majors, with $3.2 million more available in incentives.

"I didn't know if I was going to have to be ready to throw for teams [in a showcase] or what," Miley said. "I pretty much got as ready as I could be. The funny thing was I probably got lazy the past couple of years, and now I got ready and I had nowhere to go.

"It's been 12 years since I was sitting at the house during Spring Training, so I was like, 'Is this it? Is somebody going to call?' I wasn't going for the money, I can promise you that."

He was 8-15 with a 5.61 ERA and a Major League-high 93 walks in 32 starts for the Orioles last season. Miley's 5.32 walks per nine innings was the highest for a pitcher who threw more than 150 frames since Kaz Ishii walked more than six batters per nine for the 2002 Dodgers.

Video: Counsell on Gallardo, Miley giving rotation depth

"Two years in a row, really, I walked more people than I wanted to, but last year was absurd," he said. "When I was out there [and tried to throw] a fastball down and away, I couldn't do it.

"You go through, 'Are you healthy?' But I felt fine. I felt great. Then you lose confidence in yourself and it keeps building. The negatives kept piling up and I didn't know where to go."

For help, Miley tuned to Chris Westcott, his former summer league coach in Louisiana. Westcott viewed video and suggested Miley had gotten over-rotational in his delivery, which led him to lose his release point. That would help explain Miley's command issues.

Asked whether he believed the fixes he implemented with Westcott would work, Miley said, "I hope. We need to put some hitters in the box to see if it's any good or not."

First, he has time to settle into his new team. There were a number of familiar faces, including former D-backs teammate Chase Anderson. The two played in the Minors together before breaking into the big leagues.

"I think he has a lot left in the tank," Anderson said. "In Arizona he threw 600 innings in three years. That's impressive. I think he's just getting back to who he is and getting back in the strike zone. Once he's in the strike zone, he's got really good stuff."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Wade Miley