Miller at second today as utility transition continues
The midseason transition of Brad Miller from starting shortstop to super utility player has been one of the Mariners’ more intriguing storylines in recent weeks and that plot continues developing as Miller filled in for second baseman Robinson Cano in Sunday’s series finale against the Blue Jays.
Miller has now played all three outfield positions as well as second base, designated hitter and his familiar shortstop role in a one-week span. It’s a big change, but Miller comes to the park each day with an open mind, waiting to see what role awaits.
“If you embrace that, you can use it to your advantage,” he said. “Whereas if you show up and see it as a negative or pout or something, then it’s not going to help you. So I’m just kind of going with the flow right now.”
It doesn’t hurt that Miller has been one of the Mariners’ more-productive hitters, no matter where he’s been placed defensively.
“That’s part of it, not letting it affect your performance. Not letting other factors get in your way,” Miller said. “I know at the end of the day, I’ve got to play well. So whatever I’ve got to do to do that. I just want to keep it going and keep working.”
Miller has played all three outfield positions now, which is the biggest adjustment for a guy who spent his entire professional career at shortstop along with a few games at second and third. He’s spent considerable time in pregame work the past three weeks with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke and has gotten more comfortable reading the ball off the bat.
And, like any player with a mitt and a wall, he enjoys the leaping attempts at the fence, which he nearly pulled off earlier this week in Baltimore trying to pull back a grand slam by Steve Pearce.
“All me and Andy do the last 10 minutes of batting practice is home run robberies,” Miller said. “I knew the wall in Camden is shorter than Safeco. It’s crazy when it happened. It’s such an adrenaline rush and I’m just going. It ended up being probably two rows too deep. But honestly, my attitude out there is I’m just trying to go get everything. Not really think about anything, but whatever I see just go and get it.”
• Cano moved to designated hitter on Sunday as manager Lloyd McClendon looked to give his legs a break in the midst of six straight games on artificial turf in Toronto and Tampa Bay. Cano is hitting just .253 with one homer and 11 RBIs in Seattle’s first 42 games, a far cry from his normal production.
McClendon said Cano worked on some mechanical issues in Baltimore and believes he’s close to getting back in a groove.
“I’m sure he’s frustrated. He’s probably a little embarrassed,” McClendon said. “That’s only natural. But the fact is, he’s going to hit. He hasn’t gotten results here, but I see better positioning at the plate. I see his hands in a better position. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went out today and got three hits. He’s real close. He’s going to hit.”
• Austin Jackson went 3-for-5 with a double in Triple-A Tacoma’s game at Iowa on Saturday and is now hitting .310 in seven rehab games as he returns from a sprained right ankle. McClendon said a decision is looming on the veteran center fielder.
“He’s feeling a lot better. I think he’s real close,” McClendon said Sunday morning. “We’ll see how he feels after today’s game and go from there.”
It’s possible Jackson could rejoin the Mariners as early as Monday in Tampa Bay.