March 9, 2014 in Sports

M’s Miller looking to maintain the beat

Seattle stressing tempo to remedy 2013 mistakes
Ryan Divish Seattle Times

(Full-size photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — You can almost hear Brad Miller repeat the words to himself as he fields a routine ground ball in a game.

“Tempo, tempo, tempo, tempo.”

They are stuck in his mind like the refrain to a bad ’80s pop song with Mariners infield coach Chris Woodward as the lead singer.

“Tempo, tempo, tempo, tempo.”

If Miller is going to remedy some of his miscues from last season, retain the starting shortstop job and become a capable defensive player, there is one thing that will be key.

“Tempo, tempo, tempo, tempo.”

Why tempo?

Much like dancing to that bad ’80s pop song, there is a rhythm to fielding ground balls. The feet, the legs and body need to move together in a certain way at a certain pace.

Much of Miller’s struggles in the field last season came because there was no tempo or rhythm, just a hurried, manic energy.

“He’s got so much energy out there,” Woodward said. “He’s going 100 miles an hour. I want him to be calm through the ball. I want him to move quick. But when it comes to addressing the ball, especially on routine plays, to be under control. That’s going to allow him to get in line to first. It’s going to allow his arm to catch up.”

And if he rushes?

“The ball sails on him or sinks on him,” Woodward said. “That’s how silly errors are made.”

Woodward, a solid defensive shortstop during his playing days, preached it to Miller all last spring.

“You are thinking about what pitch might be called maybe two pitches ahead of time,” he said. “That’s the one thing I wanted to stress to all those guys – the more information you have, the more information you can digest, the more chances you’ve got to be in the right spot.”

Being a rookie, Miller was often uncertain if he was getting to that “right spot.” It made him rush, and mistakes followed.

“You can be quick without being in a hurry,” he said.

Mariners 18, Giants 3

Brad Miller and Michael Saunders each hit two-run homers off San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong, sparking the Mariners to a blowout win at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Stadium. Starter Erasmo Ramirez was sharp for Seattle, pitching four scoreless innings and giving up just one hit while striking out four and walking one.

Mariners 8, Dodgers 5

Los Angeles starter Josh Beckett gave up three home runs over three innings in the Dodgers’ loss to Seattle in split-squad game in Glendale, Ariz. Seattle’s Jesus Montero hit a two-run homer in the second inning and Stefen Romero followed with another shot. With two out in the third, Nick Franklin’s pop fly eluded the Dodgers’ fielders, and Justin Smoak followed with a two-run homer. Beckett allowed six hits and five earned runs. M’s starter Blake Beavan gave up three runs – one earned – in three innings

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