Greg Miller Pitches Four in Rehab Assignment

There was another positive step forward for lefthander Greg Miller while Ogden also was the recipient of good news as two pitchers returned for duty for them Monday.

Miller put in his longest stint yet in his rehab assignment for the Gulf Coast Dodgers, throwing four innings in which once again the box score does not begin to reflect the quality of the pitches he threw in a game ultimately won by the Nationals 6-1.

The lefthander entered the game in the fifth inning after the Nats had taken a 4-0 lead. He gave up four hits, all of the infield variety, and two runs , both unearned. Infielders failed to come up with ground balls on three of the hits and a passed ball along with a wild pitch contributed to the scoring. He walked one and struck out one.

"Once again, I felt great," he reported afterwards. "I was throwing the ball better in my fourth inning than I did when I first went in. I'm having some trouble with my two-seamer which is just breaking out of the zone so I'll work on that. I'm generally quite pleased."

Throwing from a three-quarters motion for the most part, he was again clocked at 94 mph with his fast ball with excellent movement on all his pitches. Where he goes from here will be determined by Terry Collins, the director of player development, who arrived in Vero Beach Monday evening.

"I want to see him pitch, probably Thursday or Friday before I make that determination," said Collins.

Meanwhile, Ogden welcomes back righthanders Mario Alvarez and David Horlacher to hopefully give a solid boost to its staff. Alvarez had been the opening -day starter for the Raptors, throwing five innings in which he allowed only two hits and no runs but has been shut down since with a muscle strain in his pitching arm.

Also fit for duty is David Horlacher, who has been working through a back muscle pull which he actually incurred while pitching for Brigham Young University before signing. An eighth-round draft pick, he had pitched while injured in college but has been sidelined by the Dodgers and has seen no duty professionally as a result.

"I've always been a starter but I guess the plan is for me to work a few innings in relief for the time being," Horlacher noted.

There was also a bright note emanating from Jacksonville where the "pop" that Hong-Chi Kuo felt in his oft-repaired left elbow turned out to be minor. In fact, Kuo has made an appearance since, going one scoreless inning in which he was clocked at 96 mph.

At Las Vegas, high regarded catcher Dioner Navarro will miss the Triple-A All-Star game because he's currently on the disabled list. Navarro was chosen to participate in the contest but will be replaced by second baseman Joe Thurston instead.

Mike Nixon has taken over the catching duties for the 51's with Rotsen Gil promoted all the way from Ogden to serve as his backup.

Another catcher, Edwin Bellorin at Vero Beach injured his shoulder in a collision with third baseman Cole Bruce and is out for a few days.