Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays confident in Brad Miller as he debuts at first base

TORONTO — The unfortunate fringe benefit for the Rays of Jake Odorizzi's struggles in Monday's 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays was that Brad Miller got plenty of work on some of those pesky little things at first base, like holding on runners and knowing where to be on balls hit to the outfield.

The Rays chose Monday for Miller's debut at first, deciding two sessions of work with bench/infield coach Tom Foley were enough to get him ready for the transition from shortstop in advance of Matt Duffy's arrival this week.

"It was weird, for sure," Miller said.

Overall, the first night went relatively well, as he handled three throws, a sharp ground ball, two popups and more than a half-dozen pickoff attempts of varying degrees of closeness.

"I thought he looked fine," manager Kevin Cash said. "Very comfortable."

Cash said they waited for Miller to tell them he was ready, and Foley to agree, and they are confident he can do it: "Brad's an athlete and he'll adjust and he'll be good."

Miller, candid in disagreeing with the Rays' assessment that he wasn't good enough at shortstop, said he was ready to give first a try and see what happens, using a borrowed glove.

Miller said his plan was to "keep it as simple as possible," but acknowledged there was also a lot more to think about "since I've never played it." He made a point of asking a lot of questions during the game and plans to continue. He felt he did better on balls hit to the infield.

"The thing for me that was a little uncomfortable was when the ball goes in the outfield and things start going in motion," he said. "You react from where you're comfortable at and you've really got to really think about where to be. So I know there were a couple times I've just got to be in a better spot."

The one most obvious adjustment Miller has to make is moving from the left side of the field to the right, where balls come at different angles.

The most complicated is knowing, and remembering, his responsibilities on balls hit elsewhere.

Foley said they did more talking and positioning in their crash-course sessions than actual physical work and that Logan Morrison, who had been the Rays' primary first baseman but is now on the DL, helped him teach.

But there is also a long list of "little things" that pretty much have to be experienced, such as when to stretch for a throw and when to come off the base, how hard to charge for a bunt, where to set his target for pickoff throws.

"There's a lot of things you can talk about, and you can talk until you're blue in the face, but until he gets in the game and has to see those things and react, you just have to wait for the game to play out," Foley said.

Nick Franklin and Tim Beckham earlier this season went through a similar transition as middle infielders learning first. Franklin said he, like Miller, went into it thinking it was not a big switch.

"It's all how you take it in, how much you can absorb it and how you handle it," Franklin said. "Really, it's not anything physically that's different because technically you're an athlete. So, more so, it's just mental, just remembering the little things that first basemen do during games."

Though the plan is to get Miller "a ton of reps" at first to see if it works for 2017, Cash said Miller could play short again, such as when Duffy gets a day off.

So, Miller was asked, does he view himself as a first baseman or a shortstop on temporary duty elsewhere?

"I'm playing first base today," he said. "That is literally the situation."

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

Comments
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Published: 05/26/18

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Published: 05/25/18
Updated: 05/26/18
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Published: 05/25/18
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Published: 05/25/18
Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

RHP Alex Cobb has already pitched twice against his former Rays mates in Baltimore and said it didn't feel that weird, especially since there were so many new faces in the lineup.But coming back to the Trop, where he made his big-league debut and spe...
Published: 05/25/18