Injury Led To Learning Lesson For Jay Miller

Jay Miller was the Phillies 17th round draft choice last year and has spent most of the season at Lakewood, despite a brief stint at Clearwater after spending time on the Disabled List. Miller never really recovered from that DL stint in May when he developed an allergic reaction to medicine he was given for a spider bite.

Miller has hit .250 this season for Lakewood and has underperformed the expectations he had for himself when the season began.

Said Miller, "I didn't meet what I was trying to do and I wish we would have made the playoffs. That's always the ultimate goal early in the season."

Miller's stint on the DL in May is where his season started to take a turn downward. Miller started cold in April hitting .203, but was hitting .317 in May before landing on the DL and seemed to be hitting a rhythm.

"I was really starting to get my swing back [when I went on the DL]. I was allergic to some medicine and I lost 20lbs. It really affected my strength and it's hard to get strength back during the season when you don't have as much time as you would have in the off-season. I definitely learned from it," said Miller.

When Miller came back, he had trouble putting up the numbers to earn the consistent playing time he was accustomed to. Miller doesn't make excuses for his poor performance or say that his lack of consistent playing time was the reason he hit .156 in June after returning from the DL. Instead, he takes full responsibility saying it was his poor numbers that led to his lack of playing time.

"It was frustrating but it was no one's fault but my own. It's hard to get your strength back and improve your numbers in the middle of the season. If you don't put up the numbers, then you don't deserve the playing time," said Miller.

He added that the experience on the DL and coming back from it was positive in at least one way.

Miller said, "I learned a lot about myself this year dealing with not playing every day. You need to perform and work to get in the lineup. It's something I haven't been real accustomed to and I still have a long way to go."

Despite all the adversity he faced this season, Miller was still able to improve his on field skills in addition to his mental makeup. He believes his approach at the plate when he is down in the count is much improved this season. He credits Lakewood hitting instructor and former Phillie Kevin Jordan for the tips he gave him and the time he spent working with Miller on his approach with two strikes.

"I've really worked on my approach to hitting with two strikes and have done a lot better in that aspect this year than I have in the past. I've really worked with the hitting coach on my stance and choking up. That's really helped me," said the Lakewood outfielder.

Miller is one of many outfielders with promise in the Phillies organization and it remains to be seen what his place, if any, is within the organization. He clearly needs to continue to progress and make improvements on parts of his game, including most notably, his power numbers and his outfield fundamentals. In 272 at-bats, he has only one home run and he acknowledges that his footwork in the outfield needs improvement. Said Miller, "I have to work on my footwork. My hitting always needs to improve. I'm definitely getting stronger [in these areas]."

Miller needs to show continued strength and improvement as he prepares for next year's Spring Training. In an organization that is already struggling to find places for budding young outfielders like Michael Bourn, Chris Roberson, and Greg Golson, it seems like Miller could find himself on the outside looking in. If Miller shows the needed improvements, it could free up one of the other extra outfielders to be used in a possible trade for desperately needed pitching help at the big league level. Only time will tell if Miller is able to make the adjustments that are needed, but this season did little to ease doubts in many minds.

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