Miller says he’s ready to play

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008


OMAHA – Jai Miller is looking forward to beginning the season and taking his place in center field … or right … or left.

As the year goes on, there’s actually no telling where Miller will be when the lineup is posted every day.

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Playing multiple positions for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes is the next step in his preparations for the major leagues.

“That’s something that’s going to be kind of odd,” Miller said. “Coming up, I was strictly a center fielder. Now I’m playing all three outfield positions. So getting as many reps in the outfield is going to be a major challenge, and of course, getting more consistent at the plate.”

Miller logged some time at the corners in his brief stint with the Florida Marlins, the Isotopes’ parent club, in spring training last month. Now begins a full on test of his versatility.

The Marlins’ outfield is unquestionably the most unsettled area of the team. Top prospect Cameron Maybin was sent down to Double-A to become a more seasoned center fielder.

Florida’s opening day lineup listed Josh Willingham in left, Cody Ross in center and Luis Gonzalez in right. Although the 40-year-old Gonzalez is by far the most experienced – and highest paid – he is not expected to be an everyday contributor. Ross and Willingham are .258 and .268 lifetime hitters, respectively.

Long story short, Miller has a legitimate shot at seeing time in the majors this season if he is productive.

He has already gotten a preview of some of the perks big league players enjoy – albeit a very small one.

“Flying for our travel,” Miller said, comparing Triple-A team transport to bus rides in the lower levels. “It has its advantages and disadvantages. Like waking up at 4 in the morning to get ready to go to the airport.”

The Isotopes begin their season tonight on the road against the Omaha Royals. First pitch is set for 7:05 central time.