NEW YORK -- With Rhys Hoskins out for the year, Brad Miller has seen most of the action at first base and been flourishing in the last few weeks.
In his last 18 games, for example, Miller is hitting 14-for-46 (.304) with six home runs, eight RBIs and an OPS of 1.125. Miller is one of the reasons Philadelphia finds itself in the National League East race. Entering Sunday night’s action, the Phillies were 1 1/2 games behind the Braves.
“It’s all hands on deck right now,” the 31-year-old Miller said. “Obviously, you are talking about making the playoffs, which not many teams get to do. You have to strike in all facets of the game.
“I feel good [at the plate]. I made some simplifications, just trying to get a good pitch to hit, do some damage. There's still a lot of work to be done in order to get better and better. I’m competing. I’m putting myself to where I can say, ‘I’m going to see the ball. I’m going to try to do some damage and just try and play to win.’ That always helps my mindset.”
During his nine-year career, which included stints with the Mariners, Rays, Brewers, Indians and Cardinals, Miller has played almost every position except for pitcher and catcher. However, Miller acknowledged he needed a lot of reps to get comfortable at first base -- and he has, thanks Phillies infield coach Juan Castro and bench coach Rob Thomson. Besides Miller practicing at the corner position, the coaches often talk to him about different scenarios that he could face.
“It’s a position that is fairly new to me,” Miller said. “It’s just knowing the situations, like holding a runner at first, how to do it and what the priority is and all that stuff. It’s fresh and new for me, but I enjoy learning and getting more comfortable there.”
All aspects of Bryce Harper’s game have impressed manager Joe Girardi, but the skipper is most impressed with Harper’s patience at the plate. Harper has a team-leading 86 walks and a .429 on-base percentage.