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Former MLB pitcher Justin Miller, 35, found dead

Justin Miller, a Palm Harbor resident, played seven MLB seasons for four teams.
Published Jun. 29, 2013

PALM HARBOR — Justin Miller, 35, a former Major League Baseball pitcher and Palm Harbor resident since 2002, was found dead Wednesday night, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities are investigating, but have not yet determined a cause of death, a sheriff's spokeswoman said. His body was found shortly after 10:30 p.m., but the Sheriff's Office would not say where it was found.

Miller played professional baseball for 15 years, most recently for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010. During seven seasons in the majors, the right-hander also played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Marlins and San Francisco Giants. He finished his career 24-14 with a 4.82 ERA.

Miller signed with the Rays in 2006 and came to spring training, then was assigned to Triple-A Durham, pitching in five games before being released and going to Japan.

Miller was perhaps best known for his heavily tattooed arms. In 2004, Major League Baseball required him to wear long sleeves on the mound after opposing hitters complained that the colorful tattoos distracted them at the plate. The requirement became known as the "Justin Miller Rule."

Last year, Miller founded Justin Miller's Legacy Baseball/Softball and Personal Training at 22083 U.S. 19 N in Clearwater. The training offered pitching and hitting lessons to young athletes.

In retirement, coaching had become Miller's passion, said his wife of 15 years, Jessica Miller.

"He was gifted at putting things in a language that kids could understand. That was something he was really proud of," she said.

Miller said her husband was a "homebody" and enjoyed spending time with their two sons, Joseph, 18, and Johnnie, 7.

She said she was not sure what caused her husband's death, but called it "sudden."

"I think he'd want the world to know that he always did his best at work and at being a dad," she said. "He always tried."

Matt McKinney can be reached at mmckinney@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4156.

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