Tacoma Rainiers

‘Pretty Cool.’ Ian Miller gets the short-notice call to the Triple-A all-star game

Ian Miller during the game. The Tacoma Rainers played the Albuquerque Isotopes in a baseball game at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., on Friday, April 12, 2019.
Ian Miller during the game. The Tacoma Rainers played the Albuquerque Isotopes in a baseball game at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., on Friday, April 12, 2019. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Ian Miller had plans for a relaxing All-Star break off in Tacoma. He’d appeared in 80 of the Rainiers’ 90 games since April 4, including all seven in the final five games of the half, complete with two separate doubleheaders.

The key word there was “had.”

When he came into the visiting clubhouse in Fresno before a Saturday doubleheader to wrap up the first half, manager Daren Brown called Miller into his office and simply told him to keep his cell phone on.

“You know how it is, there’s a bunch of things going on,” Miller said. “It was pretty much just telling me to stay ready in case anything ever happened.”

So the phone stayed within reach as Miller played cards with teammates and got a quick bite to eat before what was supposed to be his last day of action going into four days off. As it turned out, the call came not on the phone, but from another summons to Brown’s office.

“He said, ‘Parker’s going up, and we want you to be the representative for the team at the All-Star Game,’” Miller said. “I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”

Reliever Parker Markel was originally the lone Rainier selected to the Triple-A all-star game after striking out 42 batters in 25.2 innings of work in Tacoma. But on July 6, Markel got an even better reward than an All-Star selection: his second call up to the Mariners of the season.

Suddenly with its representative no longer on the roster, the Rainiers needed to pick another player to go to El Paso, and Miller got the call.

It’s the second trip to an All-Star Game of Miller’s career; he went to the Double-A All-Star Game in 2017.

“It’s cool to be shown appreciation, regardless of if it’s within your organization or out of it,” Miller said. “It’s cool to be appreciated and rewarded for doing pretty well. It’s cool to be here representing the Mariners.”

The Rainiers wrapped up their doubleheader a bit before 11 p.m. on Saturday in Fresno, but Miller, who had only packed for the three-day road trip, couldn’t go straight to El Paso. So he got up Sunday morning for a 5 a.m. flight back to SeaTac, picked a few things up from his apartment, and then flew back south to Texas.

Monday was all about catching up on rest, ending his night watching Mike Ford, his friend and the Mariners’ Rule 5 draft pick last season, finish second in the Triple-A Home Run Derby. Miller’s call came too last-minute to fly his family out to watch him play, but he said his girlfriend was able to scramble to get time off to join him Tuesday.

“It’s got a lot of hype to live up to, but so far it’s been pretty cool,” Miller said.

Miller, who came into the season with seven career home runs, has already hit seven this year. He shares the team lead with four triples. A career .277 hitter, he comes into the break with a .285 average, and his .812 OPS is 116 points higher than his career mark.

He’s also leading the PCL with 23 steals.

“Obviously, there’s somethings he needs to work on, but at the same time, the one thing he brings every day is speed,” Brown said last weekend. “For the most part, he’s done a good job of utilizing that.”

The PCL All-Stars will take on the International League at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday (MLB Network). The Rainiers will be back at Cheney Stadium to resume their season at 7:05 p.m. Thursday against Reno.

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