Tacoma Rainiers

A year older, Rainiers’ Miller is focused on putting together a complete season

Ian Miller dives into third base as he steals third, and later scores on an bad throw. The Tacoma Rainiers played the Fresno Grizzlies in a Minor League baseball game at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
Ian Miller dives into third base as he steals third, and later scores on an bad throw. The Tacoma Rainiers played the Fresno Grizzlies in a Minor League baseball game at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. joshua.bessex@gateline.com
Ian Miller went into the All-Star break last season — his first full year in Triple-A — batting .287 with a .715 OPS. Everything was going right, until it started going wrong.

“I was just saying, ‘I have to maintain, maintain, maintain,’” Miller said before Wednesday’s game at Cheney Stadium. “That’s defensive, that’s a defensive mindset. Once you do that, you just see it go down.”

And down it went. He hit just .217 after the break, dropping his batting average to .261. His on-base percentage fell 28 points, his OPS 102.

“You start struggling, you start trying to do too much, you’re playing defensive,” Miller said. “So it’s always just building.”

A year older and more mature, Miller finds himself half a week out from the All-Star break in pretty much the same spot, hitting .290. He shares the team lead with four triples and the PCL lead with 21 steals. And he’s playing some of his best baseball of the season now, riding a 10-game on-base streak, including five multi-hit games in that span.

Now, his focus is on continuing that success like he had trouble doing last year.

“Sometimes I go through these stretches of a week or two where it’s hot and a week or two where it’s not,” Miller said. “You hear it a lot, just ride the wave. When things aren’t going good, (don’t) freak out and change everything.”

Miller has also gotten to take advantage of some different voices in the clubhouse. After a year of getting to learn from Pat Listach and David Berg, he now gets manager Daren Brown and hitting coach Roy Howell’s perspective.

“Roy’s been with me for a long time,” Miller said. “Whatever he says clicks. He knows how to talk to me, he knows how to teach me.”

Long to the IL

Infielder Shed Long was put on the IL before Tuesday’s game with a sore shoulder. He’ll be out through the All-Star break.

Long hurt his left shoulder diving for a ball on June 22. He missed three games after that but returned to the lineup on June 26. Since then, he’d played in seven games in eight days. He’ll miss the Rainiers’ four-game series in Fresno, then get four more days off for the break.

“Hopefully we’ll get back from the break and he’ll be ready to go,” Brown said.

In his place, the Rainiers called up right-handed pitcher Scott Boches from high Single-A Modesto.

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