McClendon sticking with Miller for now

Miller, Brad

Even as Brad Miller’s offensive struggles have continued, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has stuck with the young shortstop. But McClendon acknowledged prior to Wednesday’s series finale with the Rays that it’s not an easy situation.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned,” McClendon said. “He’s struggling right now and I’m trying to get him out of it. I’ve said a few times, you either play ‘em or you bench ‘em. We’re trying to play him and see if he can come out of it. I don’t have any answers. I’m being honest as I can right now. I don’t have that answer. I don’t know.”

Miller was 1-for-21 in the homestand going into Wednesday’s game and a move could be pending if the 24-year-old doesn’t turn things around in a hurry. After a solid second half last year and red-hot Spring Training, Miller has hit .156 in the first 35 regular-season games.

The only backup on the current club is veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist, who is hitting .182 and is needed as a backup at all the infield positions.

Asked if his options are limited, McClendon paused.

“As we speak, right now, yeah,” he said.

Two options are present with Triple-A Tacoma, however, with Nick Franklin and Chris Taylor splitting time at shortstop and second base and both hitting well.

McClendon has gone the extra mile to get Miller going, however, and worked with him personally in the batting cage prior to Tuesday’s game with a coach holding a folded towel in front of the plate as McClendon had Miller focus on balls in that area instead of outside the square.

“My point is hitting is hard enough,” McClendon said. “The real good hitters make outs seven of 10 times, so to try to get hits on balls outside of the strike zone is going to make it even more difficult. So we’re just trying to get a better recognition of the strike zone and where he ought to be looking.

“Right now, everybody has suggestions and everybody wants to help. But in the end, he has to clear his mind, get his focus and do what he does best. And right now that’s a struggle for him.”

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