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Miller assuming more of a utility role

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SEATTLE -- With veteran Willie Bloomquist out with an injured knee and rookie Chris Taylor playing well at shortstop, Brad Miller could be assuming Bloomquist's utility role as the team heads into the stretch run.

"We miss him," manager Lloyd McClendon said of Bloomquist. "I'd be lying if I said we didn't. He was very productive and was able to play a lot of different positions. We don't have that proven guy right now. To this point we're making out, but we'll do the best we can."

Miller has started 88 games at shortstop in his second season in the Majors, but Taylor leapfrogged him on the depth chart this month and will get the majority of time there if he continues playing well, according to McClendon.

Consequently, Miller has been taking ground balls at second and third base in pregame work and could be used in the outfield in an emergency.

"I'll try to balance it, try to get Brad in there and keep him sharp," McClendon said. "But right now, [Taylor] is going to play. He's played well, he's performed well, he's playing great on defense and he's getting some big hits for us."

Miller, 24, opened the door for Taylor by hitting just .199 after batting .265 in 76 games last season as a rookie. But he is an eager worker who will do whatever is asked, including playing the outfield, which he says he hasn't done since he was a 15-year-old on a loaded youth All-Star team in Orlando, Fla.

"The last time I played outfield was when me and Nick Franklin played together and we had Tyler Pastornicky from the Braves and Nolan Fantana, who is in the Minors with the Astros," Miller said. "I played left field. That's the only time in my life I played outfield. We had four guys, and we just rotated -- second, short, third, left. And that was, like, one week. Then we went back to our different teams and played short."

Miller is more adept at second and third base, where he played a handful of games in the Minors and earlier in his career. For now he'll back up Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager at those spots in addition to working at shortstop.

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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