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Miller making successful transition to utility role

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SEATTLE -- Since losing the starting shortstop job to rookie Chris Taylor last month, Brad Miller has begun adapting more to a utility role, and that transition now has him ready to play in the outfield if needed.

With veteran Willie Bloomquist out for the season following knee surgery, Miller has been working at all of the other infield spots, including first base, and nearly got the call in right field in Wednesday's series finale against Texas.

Instead, manager Lloyd McClendon put Miller at second base to give Robinson Cano a breather as the designated hitter. But McClendon said he's close to playing Miller in the outfield -- even though the youngster has never played there in his professional career.

"He's doing everything Bloomquist did," McClendon said. "It's a very valuable asset and he's more than capable of doing those things. He's a good athlete, and I don't think first base would be much of a transition for him at all. In fact, I gave serious thought to playing him in the outfield today. Our outfield coach is very confident is his ability to play the outfield."

McClendon said having a quality utility player is critical.

"We had him and he got hurt," he said. "We're trying to develop another one, and hopefully it turns out OK. It's a really a valuable asset and something we've been very concerned about. It just goes to show you how fragile things are. You're riding the high horse and think you're doing great, but you're one injury away from everything [being in trouble]. He's a very valuable piece right now."

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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