Versatile Infielder

Zach Miller was all set at second base last year, and then one day he got the call to move to third. He didn't miss a beat.

The fourth-year junior second baseman, who had played shortstop before but not third, looked like he'd been there all his playing life.

"I've always had pretty good confidence fielding ground balls," Miller said. "It's definitely different moving from second to third. The ball gets on you quicker. It's a challenge, but I tried to meet the challenge and do the best I could. That's what the team needed at the time."

But Miller, now a fifth-year senior, has always been ready to step in and help. He redshirted his first season and since then has been an important part of the program. His first season to play he started 39 games, played in 45, and hit .368. The following year in 62 games, 61 of them starts, Miller's numbers dropped a bit at the plate, and he batted just .280.

But last season he batted .341 with five home runs, 15 doubles, and two triples.

"Each year has been a learning experience," Miller said. "I've gotten better mentally and physically at the game. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's been a ride of ups and downs, but that's the game of baseball. It's just been a great experience to be a part of."

The 5-foot-6 Miller said he's gotten stronger since he's been at Ole Miss, and there is some give and take with that aspect of his progress.

"I've always been a pretty good fielder and I hit well in high school," he said. "I was definitely a lot faster when I weighed 165 pounds. I weigh 185 now. It's definitely made me a stronger hitter. In high school we didn't lift that much. We ran a lot, but when I got here that was all a big adjustment. The first couple of weeks are always tough after you come back, no matter how hard you worked out over the summer. Overall it helps you but it's definitely a challenge."

And while the 2010 season is almost here, Miller said he doesn't want this to be his last in baseball. He has hopes for the future.

"I definitely want to play some more. I'd hate for this to be my last year," said Miller, who will likely start out at second base again this season. "As far as worrying about it, I'm not going to worry about it. It's in the back of my mind, but only because I don't want it to be over. Just play baseball for Ole Miss and win. That's what I've done for four years and that's all that matters."

Miller said showing that he has the ability and willingness to play all over the infield should also be a plus for his status with the pro scouts.

"That's definitely a positive and could help," he said. "My versatility at different positions is good. I could even play shortstop, which is what I basically played my whole life before coming here."

Miller said he's looking forward to the season and being a team leader once again, now that he's been around for a while.

"As a fifth-year senior, a lot of guys I came here with are gone now," he said. "Just (pitcher) Rory McKean and I are fifth-year guys. For us older guys to step in and lead the younger guys is important. To lead and to push when needed. There are always ups and downs, bad moments and good moments. But, again, that's the way baseball is."

Miller sees the Rebels having another solid ballclub this spring.

"It will be interesting to see how things go this season," Miller said. "We'll all be working hard and trying to win again. It's never the same at the beginning of the year as it is at the end of the year. So we'll see how it all plays out."


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