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Rays' Brad Miller still preparing with an eye toward shortstop

The Rays weren’t happy with Brad Miller’s defense at shortstop last season and eventually moved him to first base. He’s penciled in to play second base this year, but Miller, coming off a 30-homer season, says he’s still preparing to play short.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2016)

The Rays weren’t happy with Brad Miller’s defense at shortstop last season and eventually moved him to first base. He’s penciled in to play second base this year, but Miller, coming off a 30-homer season, says he’s still preparing to play short.

In trading 2B Logan Forsythe, in re-signing 1B Logan Morrison, in making an albeit unsuccessful bid for free agent 1B Chris Carter, the Rays have signaled repeatedly that their primary plan is to move Brad Miller to second base.

Miller, who lives in the Orlando area, is well aware.

He has been professional in talking with the Rays about it and didn't express any objections during a text exchange we had Friday, saying he and team officials were "on the same page."

But it didn't exactly seem like he had resigned himself to the move, having lost his shortstop job last August and unhappily shifted to first base, plus getting a one-game stint in the outfield.

"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."

As he worked out hard this winter coming off his 30-homer breakout season, and getting a hefty arbitration-driven raise to $3.575 million, Miller did so with a specific position in mind. And not his new one.

"I've been preparing to play SS this offseason and working at other spots in order to be prepared," he texted.

The Rays have short covered, with Matt Duffy, acquired in August from the Giants, recovering well from September heel surgery. They signed Morrison, a lefty like Miller, with the idea he'd play first, platooned with a righty (still TBA unless it ends up being Rickie Weeks). DH seems taken, unless they use Corey Dickerson and Colby Rasmus in the outfield vs. righties and bench Steven Souza Jr. (Hmmm.) Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin or even rookie Daniel Robertson could emerge as an obviously better option at second. But Miller's bat has to be in the lineup, and the best solution is for him to play second.

"Ready to get down there and get to work," Miller said. "We've got a lot to prove from last year. As a team there is a lot more in the tank so I'm very excited. We should be hungry."

PROSPECTING: INF Willy Adames was No. 10 in Baseball America's annual ranking of the game's top 100 prospects released Friday, with RHP Jose De Leon (acquired for Forsythe) 29th, RHP Brent Honeywell 30th, OF/1B Jake Bauers 70th and 1B Casey Gillaspie 74th. BA's always interesting Prospect Handbook was printed before the trade but otherwise would have had the same top five, though with Gillaspie ahead of Bauers and RHP Chih-Wei Hu next. OF Jesus Sanchez, a 2014 international signee, was a surprising No. 7 based on his offensive showing in two rookie-level seasons.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Though Baseball Prospectus' computers project the Rays for 84 wins, the betting industry isn't as optimistic, Reno's Atlantis Casino setting the opening over/under at 75½. … Given past interest, RHP Tommy Hunter could be a late-addition bullpen option. … In losing out on Carter and in passing on Frankin Gutierrez, Byung Ho Park and others for assorted reasons, it seems — unless Matt Wieters falls to them — the Rays will wait to see what right-handed hitter options emerge during camp. … CF Kevin Kiermaier confirmed on 620-AM's Countdown to Opening Day show that he's under consideration to be moved up from second to leadoff. … With Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson back in the booth, and Doug Waechter and Orestes Destrade also returning, the rest of the Fox Sports Sun crew should be set soon. … RHP Jake Odorizzi has his arbitration hearing Monday in St. Petersburg, a panel deciding between the $4.1 million he seeks and the $3.825 million the Rays offered. … Give the Rays credit for expanding their free Military Monday ticket program to now include teachers and first responders, and to include 10 bonus dates for a total of 16. … Per Fangraph's Travis Sawchik, "the Rays are quietly one of the offseason's winners." … Team officials are hoping the new Shaw Sports Turf being installed feels and plays better; it definitely should look better than the washed out AstroTurf they have. … A few $125 tickets remain for Saturday's Chris Archer/Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame induction dinner, featuring Pete Rose, at the Trop; see … Seriously, $1.6 billion for the Marlins?

Key dates

Tuesday: First workout for pitchers and catcher, Port Charlotte, 10:30

Feb. 19: First full-squad workout, Port Charlotte, 10:30

Feb. 24: Exhibition opener, vs. Twins, at Fort Myers, 7:05

April 2: Regular-season opener, vs. Yankees, at Trop, 1:10

Rays' Brad Miller still preparing with an eye toward shortstop 02/11/17 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2017 6:26pm]
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