By Shannon Drayer
KANSAS CITY – Don't look now, but Brad Miller is hitting.
Since Lloyd McClendon sat him May 22-24 he has hit .274/.352/.419/.771. Prior to that his line was an ugly .156/.227/.255/.483. His time on the bench forced him to relax and also enabled him to take a closer look at what had been going on. The deeper he got into his struggle the more he started swinging at pitches out of the zone, and opposing pitchers were more than happy to expand as long as he was offering.
"It's about getting a better idea of what you want to do up there," he said in an interview that ran on the pre-game show. "Other teams are smart too, they knew if they nibbled or could throw some pitches, I would chase."
As his struggles continued he often looked like he was trying to get it all back with one swing. His approach was inconsistent to the point where you would see multiple batting stances in games from him. Since the three days off we have seen him use the entire field, and as such he is finding much more success.
"I always want to be able to cover both sides of the plate and be balanced – that's the starting point," he said. "For a while there they had to throw it into my bat. I wasn't covering that outside pitch and doing any damage with it. I just wanted to get my legs back under me and be able to drive it the other way if they give it to me. That's huge for any hitter."
It's a constant chess match with the pitcher, but now he feels he has a little bit more control of the board.
"That is the battle of it, you setting the tone and not them," he said. "When a pitcher can throw a good pitch out of the zone and you can take it, then the momentum swings back to you and they have to come in there. That is huge. When it is out of the zone taking it, when it is in the zone you punish it."
And if he doesn't see the pitch he is looking for? Let it go.
"Hopefully I can take some of those pitches and get on base in other ways, because that's what good hitters do. They take what they give them. If they are going to give them a mistake they are going to punish it but if they don't, hey, they take their base and pass of to the next guy."
Sound like anyone else on the team? Robinson Cano is the perfect example of take what they give you. We are seeing that more from Miller, who is getting more hits to the opposite field as well as taking more walks. Since May 25 he has walked eight times; the two months prior he walked just 11 times. He is five walks away from his 2013 total in 100 fewer at-bats.
It would appear he is on the right track.
• Kyle Seager is in at DH today. Before the game, McClendon admitted that he hasn't stuck to his plan of getting Seager a few more days off this year and needs to be more conscientious about that.
• Endy Chavez led off this game with a double and is now 7-for-11 in his first at-bat of games which he has led off this year. Good Endy! He is 0-for-13 vs. lefties this year. Bad Endy!
• Great James Jones stat in the game notes – when Jones faces a pitcher in a game for the first time he is hitting .20,0 but the second time he sees them he is 15-for-37 (.405). The third time, 12-for-37 (.324).