By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Brad Miller’s 22-game hitting streak in Tacoma appeared to be confirmation his bat was ready for the big leagues.
The question around Miller was if his defense at shortstop would be sufficient. He, at times, turned routine plays into errors in the minor leagues. For now, the Mariners feel confident he’ll be fine at shortstop.
“He’s got the tools,” Mariners bench coach and infield instructor Robby Thompson said. “We’ll see how much arm strength he has. I think he has enough arm strength. He’s got plenty of range. He’s a ballplayer. We’ll see how far that takes him and how far it takes us.”
Miller replaces defensive whiz Brendan Ryan at short. Ryan handled all the coverage calls for the infield defense. Now, those responsibilities shift to youngsters Miller and Nick Franklin at second.
“When I played, I was the one to do the signs, right from my rookie year on,” Thompson, who won a Gold Glove at second in 1993 while with the San Francisco Giants, said. “I’m not going to tell one or the other. I’m going to keep an eye on them to see how they are doing the coverage according to the pitches being thrown. We’ll go from there. It’s all part of the learning process.”
Thompson thinks handling the responsibilities through the middle of the field are crucial.
“For me, catcher, middle infielders especially, center fielder, should be exhausted at the end of the game,” Thompson said. “Middle infielders are paying attention to every single sign being put down, you’re into the game, there’s a lot of action up the middle, obviously. Like I said, we’ll see how these guys handle it. I think they’ll be fine with it.”
Ackley ready for Tuesday?
The Mariners are still hoping Dustin Ackley will be ready to play Tuesday after spraining his thumb Saturday.
Ackley dove for a fly ball Saturday and rolled over on his left wrist. He’ll ice the thumb and use Monday’s off day for further treatment in hopes of being ready Tuesday in Texas.
Thames traded to Baltimore
The Mariners traded outfielder Eric Thames to Baltimore for infielder Ty Kelly on Sunday. Thames was designated for assignment June 22.
Kelly, 24, is batting .283 with 51 runs scored, 21 doubles, two triples, a home run and 47 RBI in 72 games with AA Bowie in the Eastern League. He currently ranks among the Eastern League leaders in runs scored (second, 51), doubles (tied for second, 21) and walks (third, 51). Kelly is batting .337 since May 29 and will report to Class AAA Tacoma.