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New Ray Brad Miller excited to join old friends

Brad Miller, obtained from the Mariners on Thursday, is good friends with new Rays teammate Richie Shaffer.

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Brad Miller, obtained from the Mariners on Thursday, is good friends with new Rays teammate Richie Shaffer.

ST. PETERSBURG — Getting to play close to home and being reunited with former Clemson teammate and good buddy Richie Shaffer and fellow Orlando-area product and ex-Mariner Nick Franklin were good reasons for Brad Miller to be excited about being traded Thursday from Seattle to the Rays.

Even better is the Rays — unlike the Mariners, who saw him more as a Ben Zobrist-type utility man — plan to give Miller the chance to be the everyday shortstop.

"No question," Miller said Friday. "Without a doubt. Obviously in this game you want to give yourself all the opportunities and do whatever is asked of you. But I'm a shortstop, and I know where I want to be on the field. I want to continue to get better and improve. But, yes, 100 percent, I would want to settle in and play shortstop. That's what I've always done."

Miller — so close with Shaffer that he will be in his upcoming wedding — is considered a solid defender with good range and a strong arm but needs to be more consistent, specifically with his throws.

Logan Morrison, the other key player acquired in Thursday's six-player deal, is hoping he gets more of an opportunity than seems initially apparent. Unless the Rays trade first baseman James Loney (and his $8 million salary, which makes it tricky) or Morrison unexpectedly wins a corner outfield spot, he looks to be the primary DH.

"Obviously as long as I'm in the lineup, I guess it really doesn't matter — I want to play every day," Morrison said. "But having said that, I believe I can contribute … more than just being a DH. I think I'm a pretty plus defender, to say the least, at first base and can play the outfield if need be. I really enjoy playing first base and the outfield. …

"I think that it obviously depends on how the team shakes out and whatever may happen but, like I said, if it's a DH, that's fine, but I feel like I would be more useful to the team on the defensive side as well."

Manager Kevin Cash said he was "very excited" to add both lefty hitters, who the Rays got with reliever Danny Farquhar for starter Nathan Karns, lefty reliever C.J. Riefenhauser and outfield prospect Boog Powell, though Cash did note that Karns was "a huge piece" of what they did in 2015.

Also:

• Left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau, who missed most of last season after shoulder surgery, and infielder Jake Elmore, who shuttled between the majors and Triple-A Durham, were outrighted off the 40-man roster and became free agents.

• Right-hander Alex Cobb, left-hander Grayson Garvin and right-hander Burch Smith were reinstated from the 60-day disabled list, which filled out the 40-man roster. Further changes will be made as the Rays add prospects in advance of the Nov. 20 deadline for Rule 5 draft eligibility.

• As expected, the Rays did not make qualifying offers (one year, $15.8 million) by Friday's deadline to any of their other free agents: shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, DH/outfielder John Jaso and outfielder/DH Grady Sizemore. Players can sign with other teams starting today; the Rays are not expected to be active early.

• Cash, team president Brian Auld, former players and 150 Rays staffers partnered with KaBoom on Friday to build a playground at the CASA domestic violence center in St. Petersburg.

• A pair of prospects, shortstop Daniel Robertson and outfielder/first baseman Jake Bauers will play in tonight's Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game (8, MLB Network).

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com.

New Ray Brad Miller excited to join old friends 11/06/15 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2015 8:03pm]
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