Miller went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly, run-scoring groundout and solo home run in Thursday's 10-8 Grapefruit League loss to the Pirates.
Miller was in desperate need of some success at the plate, as he'd entered Thursday's game mired in a 2-for-17 slump. The homer was the first of spring for the Rays' second baseman, who's also fanned on five occasions over his 19 at-bats. Factoring in Thursday's production, Miller is slashing .158/.190/.368 over seven games, with one double, Thursday's round-tripper and trio of RBI, one walk and four runs.
Miller, who went 0-for-3 in Friday's 3-1 Grapefruit League victory over the Twins, handled back-to-back chances at second base cleanly, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The slugging infielder and the Rays were content with Miller's deubt effort at second in live action this spring, which drew praise from manager Kevin Cash following the game. Assuming the 27-year-old locks down his new position as expected, the team will be able to deploy Matt Duffy in the shortstop role that he's comfortable in. Miller is expected to see plenty of reps at the keystone this spring in preparation for the regular season.
It's confirming the assumed direction Tampa Bay would head after trading Logan Forsythe. Miller likely won't play much at first base after the Rays brought back Logan Morrison. Miller's lack of batting average and stolen base help deplete what he can offer fantasy players, but his credible power and run production remain useful, and he'll eventually add the keystone to his first base-outfield fantasy eligibility.
Miller spent the offseason preparing to play shortstop despite strong indications he'll be deployed elsewhere in 2017, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "My thing is I know it's a long season and a lot can transpire," Miller said. "We've discussed a lot of different things. I'm focused on getting us back to playing winning baseball. So I'm coming to camp ready to work. A lot of it is just talk so far, so I'm excited to get back to actually playing."
Conventional wisdom dictates a move to second base for Miller in the coming season, given Matt Duffy's likely deployment at shortstop. However, that didn't stop Miller from still putting in his offseason preparation at the position he'd held throughout his three-plus major league seasons before Duffy's Rays debut on Aug. 12. Miller emphasized that he and the Rays are "on the same page" with respect to 2017, but he deemed it prudent to keep his shortstop skills sharp this offseason as a contingency plan. Regardless of where he finds himself in the infield, Miller's bat will be heavily counted on again after a breakout 2016 campaign that saw him tally career highs in homers (30), RBI (81), slugging (.482) and OPS (.786).
Miller is expected to be Tampa Bay's starting second baseman in the 2017 season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Logan Forsythe served as the Rays' starting second baseman for the 2016 season. However, he was recently dealt to the Dodgers, so the club will look for Miller to fill the void this coming season. Miller played the bulk of 2016 at shortstop, but also was a regular at first base. He's spent time at second in the past, but in a limited capacity as he played 37 games at the spot, spread across three seasons with Seattle at the start of his career.
|10/2/2016 vs Texas|
|vs Perez (Career)||12||4||0||.417||.467||.333|
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|2012||AFA-High Desert Maverick||97||410||89||139||33||5||11||56||52||79||19||6||.412||.524||.339|