CLEVELAND — The Indians’ top prospect, Adam Miller, is pitching out of Triple-A Buffalo’s bullpen to build himself back up after missing more than a month with a strained tendon in his right middle finger. The work may also be practice for a future assignment in the big leagues.
With the Indians in search of late-inning assistance, there has been speculation the club would take a shot with Miller in the bullpen once it feels the 22-year-old right-hander has fully recovered from the finger injury. He’s been a starter since being drafted by Cleveland in 2003.
“I think he might be, potentially,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge, when asked if Miller was a future candidate for his bullpen. “We’re not going to do anything until we know he’s physically in a place to (help us). Right now, we just want him to get back healthy and be able to pitch again.
“He has to work his way back and build himself up again anyway, so why not do it in the bullpen and create an option.”
Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro was the first to hint at the potential move for Miller, who returned to the mound Monday night for the first time since May 12, pitching a scoreless inning for the Bisons in a 4-2 victory over Norfolk. Miller entered Tuesday 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA in eight games for Buffalo, striking out 40 batters in 45 innings.
The Indians are not expected to promote Miller as an experiment, only out of necessity.
“If he came up, it would be because he could help us,” Wedge said.
The Big C
With a major league-leading 11 wins and a 3.24 ERA, Sabathia appears to be en route to his best season in the big leagues. Still, Cleveland’s ace knows he’s not at the finish line.
“It’s too early,” said Sabathia, who along with Boston’s Josh Beckett and Los Angeles’ John Lackey is a candidate to start for the American League in the All-Star Game. “I’ve got a lot of starts left and a lot of season left. Maybe in October or November I can look back and say I had a good year.”
Don’t expect to see Andy Marte until September. The Indians’ opening-day starter at third base is at Buffalo, where he is expected to stay until teams are able to expand their rosters to 40 players.
“This is really one of the final opportunities for him to go to the minor leagues and work on things and learn what he needs to do up here to be consistent,” Wedge said. “His attitude has been great.”
Marte entered Tuesday batting .238 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 35 games for the Bisons.
Monday’s victory over the A’s accounted for the 10th time this season that Indians pitchers did not walk a batter. Cleveland’s staff entered Tuesday with the lowest walk total in the majors (188) and is on pace to walk 406, which would be the least by the Indians since 1920 (401).
Contact Chris Assenheimer t 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.