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Rays hope Brad Miller can hold his own at shortstop

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For Brad Miller, it starts with the routine play. The sizzle can come later.

It starts with the Sunday hop. It starts with the easy throw. It starts with plugging the hole up the middle.

For Miller, the new shortstop of the Tampa Bay Rays, baseball is just that simple.

Of all the additions to the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster this spring, you can make an argument that Miller is the most important. Not only do the Rays want a little pop out of his bat, they also need for him to be a dependable – if not sensational – defender as he takes over for Asdrubal Cabrera, a player who resurrected his career at shortstop for the Rays a year ago.

Miller, a key ingredient in the team’s trade with Seattle this off-season, is also being counted on to be good for the Rays. Much of their plan of run-prevention hinges on defense from the shortstop position, for instance.

“I know the media likes to throw out labels – glove or bat – but I want to be both,” Miller said. “I’m focusing on being a complete player.”

Miller made too many errors in Seattle, throwing errors in particular. Still, Miller has confidence he can hold down the position. But Miller also has superior range to Cabrera, suggesting the Rays might be better off.

“For sure,” he said. “Everyone here has confidence. It’s easy to believe you can do the job. The No. 1 thing is to turn balls into outs. You have to be able to play defense up the middle.”

The Mariners lost faith in Miller, attempting to turn him into a super utility player in the manner of Ben Zobrist.

“We’re confident he can play short,” said manager Kevin Cash. “Anytime you have a new player come to an organization, especially on defense, you want the everyday play made. He knows that.”

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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