SEATTLE — Brad Miller arrived at Safeco Field still not sure if it was all some dream or if his dreams had finally come true.
The touted shortstop prospect not only had been promoted to the Seattle Mariners, but he was also in the starting lineup and batting ninth Friday against the Chicago Cubs.
“I’m just trying to let it soak in,” Miller said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people. I’ve talked to my family and friends. I’m just excited and ready to play.”
How much Miller will play partly will depend on him and his performance, according to manager Eric Wedge. It’s the same way Wedge is determining the playing time of catcher Mike Zunino.
“We’ll work off of him,” Wedge said. “He’s going to play. How much? We’ll see.”
To make room for Miller on the 25-man roster, the Mariners optioned shortstop Carlos Triunfel to Triple-A Tacoma.
Infielder Alex Liddi was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Incumbent starting shortstop Brendan Ryan will take on more of a utility backup role. Wedge talked with Ryan before the game about his new role.
“He was good,” Wedge said of how Ryan took the news. “He’s a pro. I told him to come to the ballpark ready to play every day, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Miller earned the promotion by hitting .356 (37-for-104) in 26 games with Tacoma with five doubles, a triple, six homers and 28 RBI.
“He’s been playing fantastic in Triple A and made a great impression on us in spring training, very similar to Zunino, so we feel like it’s a good time to take a look at him,” Wedge said.
The impression was so strong that Wedge kept Miller, a second-round draft pick out of Clemson in 2011, in big league spring
training until the end. While Zunino, Triunfel, Nick Franklin and other touted prospects were optioned to minor league camp this spring, Miller stayed and played.
“It was overall, the tangibles and the intangibles,” Wedge said. “He’s a very mature young man. He looks to have tremendous perspective, and obviously his baseball ability sticks out as well. He’s a complete player. That’s why we kept him around the entire camp.”
Miller knows a promotion to the big leagues means little. Now that he’s here, he must produce. He also knows that his consistency in the field needs to improve. He has had trouble with fielding errors — 50 in 185 games at shortstop in 2012 and 2013.
“I feel good out there and confident,” he said. “There are definitely some little adjustments just talking with Brendan and Robby (Thompson, bench coach) in spring training that really helped, little keys that help me feel confident. For me, it’s always staying low. I’m kind of a lanky guy so I have to work on using my legs.”
Triunfel had been serving as the backup utility infielder since the Mariners decided to designate Robert Andino for assignment. He appeared in nine games and hit .083 (2-for-24). The demotion will allow him to go back to the Rainiers, play every day and continue to work on his hitting approach.
Liddi, the Mariners’ 2008 minor league player of the year, was a victim of roster crowding. He had just returned to Tacoma after a brief stint with the Mariners. This season in Triple A, he was hitting .263 (63-for-240) with 11 home runs and 43 RBI, but his struggles to make consistent contact have dogged him throughout his career. He has struck out 86 times this season with the Rainiers.
The Mariners have 10 days to either trade, release or outright Liddi. There is some speculation that because of his power potential — 30 homers in 2011 with Tacoma — Liddi might be claimed off waivers.
The Mariners will wear the throwback uniforms of the 1909 Seattle Turks. The Cubs also will wear retro uniforms from the 1900s. ... Mike McCready, the lead guitarist for Pearl Jam, played “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the game and also threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Mariners hitting coach Dave Hansen, an accomplished guitarist, caught the pitch. During the pregame soundcheck, McCready let Hansen play his guitar for a few minutes. Several of the Mariners on the field for early batting practice gave Hansen a small ovation. ... Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said in an interview with Sports Radio KJR that pitcher Erasmo Ramirez would join the Mariners shortly, but he didn’t specify a time frame.
It will be a rare midafternoon start — 4:15 p.m. — at Safeco Field for the Mariners and Cubs because of the national television broadcast on Ch. 13. Right-hander Aaron Harang (3-7, 5.29 ERA) will get the start for Seattle. The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 3.39 ERA) to the mound. The game will be broadcast on 710-AM.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish