Greg Miller Sees First Action in Nearly Two Years

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- As sometimes happens in baseball, it will be a case of the box score not reflecting the quality of the performance as Greg Miller pitched in a game that actually counted for the first time in a year and one-half Thursday.

The line reads two innings pitched, three hits, three runs for the lefthander and for a player who was once touted as one of the very best pitching prospects in the game that might seem as a rather inefficient outing. But those numbers don't reflect the quality of the pitches he threw during that effort.

His fast ball averaged between 91-94 mph and everything he threw had good movement, maybe too much at times for the only fault that could be found was that he didn't always throw them where he wanted to. Only one ball was hit sharply in the stint.

Pitching against the Marlins' entry, he started by walking the first man on a borderline 3-2 call, then got two strikes on the next man before he hit a bouncer that went down the left field line, just eluding the third baseman as it rolled past third to wind up in the book as a two-base knock. Then, a pitch got away from him to the backstop to allow one man to score and another to reach third. A slow grounder to first meant another run. Two more similar ground balls got him out of the inning.

The first batter in the second hit a slow roller toward second that wasn't charged quickly enough with the result that the runner just beat the throw for another hit. Miller then struck out the next man but a passed ball allowed the runner to second. Then came the only solidly-hit ball, a single just past the diving shortstop that scored the third run. The next two hit routine grounders to avert any more damage.

"I was generally pleased," said Miller afterwards. "My pitches had velocity and life. The main thing is that I felt good. I didn't quite have the command that I wanted but it was the first time out. I plan to go again Monday and maybe then the box score will reflect how I threw."

On other injury notes, righthander Jose "Jumbo" Diaz, who has been clocked as high as 99 mph before elbow surgery, has been throwing strong bullpen sessions and may well follow Miller into action shortly.

On perhaps the grounds that the game giveth and taketh away, however, right hander Javy Guerra, another prime prospect, is going to have elbow surgery in two weeks, possibly Tommy John, which would put him out for over a year.

"I was throwing 94 at Columbus but it was hurting so I decided to go ahead now rather that wait. They'll go in and see what damage there is to determine what has to be done. I'm hoping, Like it was with (Eric) Gagne, it won't be as bad as they think."

Guerra is the second Columbus starter to go out with a season-ending injury following righthander Jesus Castillo, who had the Tommy John procedure earlier.