By Shannon Drayer
Brad Miller heads into today’s game hitting .164/.224/.276/.500. It is understandable that fans are wondering just how much longer Lloyd McClendon can keep him in the lineup or on the 25-man roster. The numbers are impossible to ignore, but McClendon isn’t paying attention to those right now. He is watching each at bat and seeing signs of progress. While acknowledging that Miller has been chasing out of the zone he did point out that he has started to take some walks and get deeper into counts.
“I expect him to break out of this any day,” he said. “I really like what I’m seeing. I like his approach. I know he’s frustrated, he’s a strong-minded kid. He’s going to be okay.”
You have to be strong-minded to go out there every day with those numbers. It’s tough, but McClendon believes Miller can handle it and that his history would indicate there is better baseball from him ahead.
“I’ve been there before,” he said. “If you look at his career numbers in the minor leagues there’s some pretty impressive numbers. He’s got a .925 OPS in the minor leagues. To think that he’s not going to hit at this level, he’s a career .334 hitter in the minor leagues. He’s going to hit. I know it’s frustrating for him right now. He’s not the first hitter in the history of the game to struggle.”
A commitment has been made to Miller. The Mariners see him as the shortstop of the future and he will be given more time to figure it out at the plate. That time is not unlimited however and unlike struggles we have seen with other young players in recent years this is different as the Mariners have other options in the minor leagues.
McClendon feels he’s close. We shall see if today is the day.
-Taijuan Walker and James Paxton threw bullpen sessions before the game. Both declared outings a success and both should throw again Wed. Walker threw 25 pitches in his first pen since being shut down, all fastballs and changeups. Paxton mixed in the curve in his second pen and expects to throw 55 pitches on Wed. getting him closer to a sim game and rehab assignment.
-Michael Saunders was relieved with his diagnosis of a hyper-extended knee suffered in the game Saturday night, calling it a “best case scenario.”
“It felt awkward,” he said. “It felt a little loose but we did all the tests and there is no ligament damage.”
An MRI was not required and Saunders said that he thought he could go out for pinch hitting duties today if needed. McClendon has other ideas saying that he didn’t want him running quite yet.
-There was still talk about the play at second base last night where Robinson Cano was originally called safe at second but saw the call overturned after replay showed his foot hit the foot of the second baseman Johnny Giavotella rather than the bag. McClendon is still not happy with that call.
“The ruling on it is he never reached the bag because he was on the guy’s foot,” he said. “My question was are you allowed to block the base before the ball is coming? I guess in this instance you are. It is different from a play at the plate but I am still puzzled by that and I am sure at some point baseball is going to revisit that because in my opinion that’s just illegal. The only recourse you have as a player is to go in with your spikes high because if you go in with your spikes high that is going to discourage a guy from blocking that base against you and that is what we are going to instruct our guys to do, go in a little higher and see if you can clear that base a little bit.”