Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Still seething over move, Miller lifts Rays with home run

ST. PETERSBURG — Brad Miller is still not over the pain and extreme disappointment from Monday, when the Rays delivered what he called "a punch to the gut" in telling him he was no longer good enough to be their shortstop and would be replaced once newly acquired Matt Duffy was ready to come off the disabled list.

"I'm not going to change my perception on that whatsoever," Miller said.

As frank as Miller has been in sharing his displeasure, he has made it obvious that the onus is now on the Rays to find a way to keep his bat in their lineup, whether that's at first base — as they are talking about now — or in leftfield, or at DH, or, well, somewhere.

Miller on Thursday delivered his 19th homer — that's more than Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza Jr. and any of the other Rays' supposed sluggers not named Evan Longoria — and in dramatic fashion, a three-run shot in the eighth inning that led the Rays to a 3-2 win over the Royals.

That it gave them a split of the series with the defending champs, that it put them within one win of their first (first!) winning homestand of this lost 44-63 season, that it gave them some cushion in the "race" to stay ahead of the incoming 43-65 Twins as the AL's worst team, those were all footnotes.

This was about Miller punctuating the point that regardless of where he stands on the field or in the dugout, he has one of the most potent bats on a team in need of any — and every — enhancement it can get.

And he knows it.

"They're not doing me a favor by keeping me in the lineup," he said. "I've earned it."

Manager Kevin Cash, thrust again in that uncomfortable position between front office decisions and clubhouse reactions, said pretty much the same thing, and lauded Miller for his professionalism though the trying week.

"We're lucky to have him," Cash said. "It doesn't matter where he plays. We know his bat plays. And he's a huge part of our plans and our team going forward."

Miller is still young at 26 and, even by Rays standards, somewhat affordable for a couple of more years, eligible for arbitration for the first time next season and not a free agent until 2020. (At the very least, he could be an interesting trade chip.)

"I think I've shown them all year how valuable I am," said Miller, who has never hit more than 20 homers in a season at any level. "But at the end of the day I've got to go out and play, and that's all that matters."

When the Rays acquired the lefty-swinging Miller, along with first baseman Logan Morrison and reliever Danny Farquhar, from Seattle for starter Nathan Karns, bit part reliever C.J. Riefenhauser and now PED-suspended minor-league outfielder Boog Powell, they expected him to hit the ball hard.

But 19 home runs, with a respectable .254 average, by early August? And on a pace pushing 30 bombs, especially after hitting just two in a brutal .174 opening month?

"Probably not, because he didn't get off to the best start," Cash said. "We did have a lot of confidence, and we were very optimistic about his bat and his overall play. … The actual home run numbers probably I think you could say are a little bit of a surprise."

But deep down, Tampa Bay couldn't have been surprised by the lapses on defense, the occasionally erratic throws and the misplays and missed plays resulting in 13 errors and an AL worst -12 defensive runs. Miller lost his shortstop job with the Mariners for similar reasons, but the Rays, as most teams do, had the bravado to believe they could "fix" him.

Instead, they are going to find another spot for him.

"We're not "finding" it for him," Cash insisted semantically. "He's so valuable to our lineup. We know for us to be good, Brad Miller has to be there and be hitting right in the thick of things and doing what he's been doing all season long."

No matter where he is playing.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

     
                                                         
Comments
Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Published: 04/20/18
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

Tonight's Rays lineup against the Twins. Brad Miller back in the lineup following his DL stint (left groin strain). First pitch at 7:10 p.m.LF Denard SpanDH C.J. CronRF Carlos Gomez1B Brad Miller3B Daniel Robertson2B Joey WendleC Wilson RamosCF Malle...
Published: 04/20/18
Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

The Rays activated INF Brad Miller off the DL for Friday's game.Miller had been out 11 days due to a groin strain.To make room on the roster, they DFA'd INF/OF Brandon Snyder, who was called up on Tuesday.
Published: 04/20/18
Wall Street Journal: Baseball in Florida ‘has been a disaster’

Wall Street Journal: Baseball in Florida ‘has been a disaster’

The Rays and Miami Marlins "are at a moment of reckoning" after histories of low attendance and an offseason in which they sold off many of their top players and were singled out by the MLB Players Association for failing to spend revenue-sharing mon...
Published: 04/20/18
Rays’ Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Rays’ Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Rays RHP Chris Archer goes into tonight's start against the Twins with no trouble moving on from his messy Saturday performance against the Phillies that included arguably the worst inning of his career."It's already gone," Archer said Wednesday...
Published: 04/20/18
Memorable off day for Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough

Memorable off day for Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough

Rays rookie LHP Ryan Yarbrough has enjoyed everything about his first major-league experience, from pitching in the games to traveling in top-notch style to getting to play in front of family and friends to seeing his first paycheck.And then the Lake...
Published: 04/20/18
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18