Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays fall to Orioles with Miller starting in leftfield

BALTIMORE — When the Rays acquired Matt Duffy from the Giants last month and installed him as their shortstop, they shifted Brad Miller across the diamond to first base, a move he didn't take well but handled fine.

That well may still be the plan for next season, assuming Duffy recovers, as expected, from the left heel surgery that forced Miller to go back to playing some shortstop, but the Rays are exploring other options to keep Miller's potent lefty bat in the lineup.

And in Friday's tense 5-4 loss to the contending Orioles, that included starting Miller in leftfield.

"It just adds to our versatility as a team," manager Kevin Cash said. "We want to at least take this opportunity the next two weeks; he's not going to play out there every day, but when he does, it allows us to rethink maybe our roster going into 2017 and the flexibility we might have."

For now, Cash said, "I still view him as our first baseman,'' with the added, and somewhat unusual, ability to also play shortstop and the outfield.

Going into 2017, the Rays seem to be set at the four infield spots, and with Kevin Kiermaier in centerfield and Steven Souza Jr. presumably in right, that allows Corey Dickerson to be stashed safely at DH, given his increasingly obvious shortcomings on the grass.

But — if they were to be comfortable with Miller in the outfield, where he played 35 games for the Mariners last year — the Rays could at least consider picking up a first baseman in the offseason if the opportunity arose (or — in theory, anyway — giving prospects Richie Shaffer or Casey Gillaspie a chance.)

So could Miller end up the primary leftfielder?

"I personally think that would be a stretch," Cash said. "But a lot of that is kind of dictated on what we do in the offseason and what we find, whether it's through trades or free agency, what type of guys we're going to bring in for next year."

Cash has been talking with Miller about the possibility of getting in the outfield said Miller was "all for" the opportunity and "seems very eager."

Miller said "it'll be exciting to be out there" but took more of a do-what-they-say approach, borrowing an outfield glove from reliever Danny Farquhar.

"They write the lineup, and my job is to prepare and go do whatever they ask of me," Miller said.

As for the future possibilities? "You know me. I'm pretty focused on right now," he said.

Miller wasn't much of a factor during his six innings in left, botching a first-inning fly but not getting any other real action.

Elsewhere the game was exciting, as the Rays took a 4-0 lead on homers by Evan Longoria, his career-high 34th of the season, and Shaffer's first, and got a strong start from Chris Archer, but couldn't hang on.

There were several key moments as the Rays fell to 63-84.

In the seventh, Kiermaier just missed making a spectacular leaping, grand-slam-robbing catch above the centerfield wall. But even though the ball popped out of his glove as he came down, he still saved three runs.

"I'm glad I prevented a huge inning, but at the same time the competitive side of me is aggravated I didn't come up with the catch,'' Kiermaier said.

The Orioles went ahead as Brad Boxberger made a mess of the eighth, loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter, then allowing two runs on an infield single and a sac fly.

The Rays made a valiant bid in the ninth off star closer Zach Britton. Mikie Mahtook singled with two outs, then was running on the pitch when Alexei Ramirez singled to left, but throws from Michael Bourn and relay man Manny Machado nailed him at the plate for the final out. The Rays challenged the call and whether catcher Matt Wieters was blocking the plate, but replay showed it was right.

"Love the send (by third-base coach Charlie Montoyo),'' Cash said. "You have to. No-brainer right there. … It took two perfect throws, and that's what they did.''

For the Rays, these final weeks have been interesting, and with surprises.

Rays fall to Orioles with Miller starting in leftfield 09/16/16 [Last modified: Sunday, September 18, 2016 3:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning announce events for 25th anniversary season

    Blogs

    The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    The Lightning's 25th anniversary logo.
  2. Lightning reveals 25th anniversary logo

    Blogs

    The Lightning unveiled the logo for its 25th anniversary season as well as a number of the events that will be part of the celebration during an exclusive Season Ticket Member draft party Friday at Amalie Arena.

  3. For starters: Ramus to DL, Peterson back, no further moves

    Blogs

    We were expecting a flurry of roster moves this afternoon and we got one. OF Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.

    Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.
  4. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure

    Bucs

    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston faced pressure on more than 30 percent of his pass plays last season. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?

    Blogs

    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

    The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.