Wisconsin native Miller back in camp as instructor
PHOENIX -- After six years away, Damian Miller is back in uniform with the Brewers.
The former catcher is in the midst of a weeklong stint as an instructor in Milwaukee's camp. It is first coaching stint -- unless you count youth sports with his teenage kids, Josey and Jesse, in western Wisconsin.
"They had a meeting and I guess my name came up," Miller said. "They asked me if I wanted to come down and work with the catchers, and I said, 'Absolutely.'"
Just like that, Miller was back in the game. Besides appearing in fantasy camps for the Brewers and D-backs, he had not worn a uniform since retiring after a 2007 season spent in Milwaukee. Miller played for the Twins, D-backs, Cubs, A's and Brewers during an 11-year Major League career. He was a 2002 National League All-Star for Arizona.
It was Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell, a former Brewers and D-backs teammate, who suggested the Brewers bring Miller in.
"I came in not wanting to step on guys' toes, because everybody has their own way of doing stuff," Miller said. "But I talked to Ron [Roenicke, the Brewers' manager] right away, and he gave me some freedom right away. If I see something, I'm saying it. ... So I've talked to [Jonathan] Lucroy a couple of times about being a leader, and been over to Minor League camp with [catching coordinator] Charlie Green to talk to the kids. Just little things.
"I've really enjoyed the coaching staff of it. I played professionally for 18 years and gained some knowledge, and I like to share it. To be able to do it here instead of teaching 13-year-olds, it's a little different."
Whether this leads to a full-time coaching career, Miller is not sure. He may increase his time in camp in subsequent years and make a decision after his kids have left for college.
He arrived in Brewers camp the day before the team's Cactus League opener, and it quickly became apparent what he had missed most.
"I missed being in the dugout," Miller said. "That's good stuff there, being down there and seeing the pace of the game again, how fast it is. I can see first-hand, from field level, how Milwaukee is sitting pretty good in terms of the talent I've seen. When I was here, we were just kind of ascending.
"I'm glad to keep the foot in the door [in MLB]. But my kids are the age right now where they're into everything, and I hate to miss stuff. I don't want to close the door, for sure."