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McClendon preaching patience with Miller

McClendon preaching patience with Miller

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has a simple answer for the many people who figure they have solutions for slumping shortstop Brad Miller. Just leave the youngster alone, says McClendon, and he'll work his way through things and return to the productive player that debuted last season.

Miller was hitting .157 going into Sunday's series finale with the Twins, and that average is just .100 (7-for-70) over his last 23 games. But Miller hit .265 last season as a rookie and was a .334 hitter in three Minor League seasons with the Mariners after being drafted in the second round out of Clemson in 2011, and McClendon is giving him time to work through his struggles.

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"Is he better than what he's shown? Absolutely," McClendon said. "Is he as good as his Minor League numbers? Probably not. But he's somewhere in between there and we have to get him to that point. Right now I think it's more mental than physical. And the one thing he'll get when this is all over -- and it will be over -- he'll be battle tested. He's going to be a big leaguer.

"Because it happens to the best of us. I played with Barry Bonds, and at the end of May he was hitting .163. But he came through it and was MVP. You have to become battle tested. Nobody likes it. I don't like it. Fans don't like it. I'm 'an idiot for playing him.' All that stuff. I get it. But in the end, we'll see."

McClendon is trying to get the 24-year-old to clear his mind at this point and focus on looking for pitches in the strike zone, while letting his natural instincts return at the plate. The manager said he's received calls from various scouts saying Miller is standing too erect, or crouching too much or various things. And he's having none of it.

"Everybody talks about where your hands are or 'is he standing straight?'" McClendon said. "Good hitters make adjustments and fight through it. That's what he's doing. He's fighting through a slump. Some days he's up, other days he's spread out. Some days his hands are high, other days they're low. I went through it. I did it. I know exactly what he's going through.

"I know people care. But back off and let us do our job, because the worst thing that can happen to this kid is a thousand voices start getting in his head. Everybody means well and I get it. But if you want him to do well and you want to help him, leave him alone."

The Mariners seem intent on giving Miller every opportunity. Shortstop Chris Taylor, who was hitting .372 at Triple-A Tacoma, just went on the seven-day disabled list this week with a broken finger on his left hand. Nick Franklin, who was beaten out in spring by Miller for the shortstop job, is hitting .376 with Tacoma, but has played in the outfield the past two games.

McClendon said Franklin has been hampered by a back injury in recent days.

"Hopefully his back is healthy, and then we'll see where we are," McClendon said. "Obviously we need offense, and he's certainly an option. [General manager] Jack [Zduriencik] and I have talked about it. We'll see where we are in the next few days. But for him to be able to play a lot of different positions, as I've said before, is important. Because if he's going to be here right now, he's going to have to move around."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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