Entering his eighth professional season, Miller (still only 24) exploded on the scene in 2003, recording a combined 12-5 record between Vero Beach and Jacksonville at the age of 19, recording a 221 ERA and striking out 151 in 142.1 innings.
Then he underwent shoulder surgery that was reported to be "minor" during spring training in 2004 but never did get back into action that season.
He only pitched 34 innings in 2005, finally returning in 2006 but suffered shoulder soreness in the middle of the season. At Las Vegas in 2007 he recorded a 7.85 earned run average and was sent to Jacksonville where he was 4-0, 3.02 although he walked 89 in 97 innings between the two teams.
Miller admitted that 2008 was tough. "It was another pretty rough year," he told Jackson. He walked 63 batters in 53.2 innings at Las Vegas, plus hitting nine batters and throwing 12 wild pitches. The result was a 7.71 ERA in 48 relief appearances.
However, Dodger's Minor League Coordinator De Jon Watson said that there were flashes when he seemed to have conquered his wildness, "and that's an encouraging sign." He went to the Instructional League after the season and felt he pitched well there. Miller is still on the 40-man roster, so the organization hasn't given up on him, and he hasn't given up on himself, either.
?"You never really know," Miller said. "I am definitely thankful that they have given me two, three, four and five opportunities. At the same time, there is always a chance the organization might say enough is enough."
One of his problems seems to be that he tends to want to go too hard and too fast when he gets into trouble. He told Jackson that Vegas 3Bs Luis Maza and Terry Tiffee would often hold the ball for a few seconds after it was thrown in from the outfield just to give him some time to gather himself and calm down.
Perhaps the kid is finally on the right track.
Kennedy Rays new TV analyst
The Rays new TV analyst will be Kevin Kennedy, the former Dodgers minor league manager, Rangers and Red Sox manager and co-host of FOX network's now-discontinued studio pre-game show.
Kennedy, 54, will work most, but not all, of the Rays games, sharing with former pitcher Brian Anderson as partner to Dewayne Staats and replacement for Joe Magrane.
Kennedy also hosts an XM radio show and has been doing pre- and post-game TV for the Dodgers.
RHP Jason Schmidt, who has been limited to six starts and one win in his two seasons with the Dodgers because of shoulder problems, said he was "pretty darn close" to feeling normal. If I can remember what that felt like."
He underwent two surgeries over that span and is convinced that the most recent, which removed scar tissue, will let him earn a spot in the rotation in the final year of his three-year, $47-million contract.
"Last year, I had to talk myself into it," Schmidt told the Los Angeles Times. He suffered a setback in the spring and spent the entire season on the disabled list.
Young Behind the Plate
Outfielder Delwyn Young, working to become more versatile, donned catcher's gear during a recent workout, something he figures to do often this spring.
Young is out of minor-league options has a roster spot nailed down as a backup outfielder, but he is hoping to develop enough skills behind the plate to possibly be designated as the Dodgers' emergency third catcher.
"I would say I need some more work," Young said. "I started working on it last year. I went to the (bull)pen during games so I could warm somebody up before I had to (pinch-hit or enter the game defensively). I usually would stay down there for about half the game. It's too early to tell how it's going to work out, but I did enough last year to know it's hard work."
Prospect Travis Schlichting suffered the first injury of the spring. He is shut down for now after hurting his back last week while throwing off a mound near his home in Round Rock, Texas.
Schlichting, who was added to the 40-man roster this winter, reportedly wrenched his back when he slipped in some soft dirt on the front of the mound.
Manager Joe Torre applauded the move from Florida, citing the closer proximity among spring facilities in the Cactus League. "Arizona is so much better than Florida for one reason: You're going to spend more time on the field than on the bus," he said.
Greg Miller Still Upbeat
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