Miller adjusting to life as a first baseman

Converted SS records 2 doubles, 2 RBIs while looking like a veteran at new position

Miller adjusting to life as a first baseman

TORONTO -- Brad Miller doesn't like the idea of being a first baseman. What else would a shortstop think? Despite his displeasure, Miller looked like a real first baseman Monday night in his first opportunity at his new position.

What made the experiment of changing a shortstop into a first baseman look even better was the fact Miller hit like a first baseman in the Rays' 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays.

Miller went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs while not at all resembling someone learning a new position.

"He looked very comfortable," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Miller was tested right away in the first when Josh Donaldson hit a shot the other way that Miller scooped before racing to first base for the out. He also fielded a lot of throws to first from starter Jake Odorizzi when holding runners on. Miller didn't find either of those situations particularly taxing.

Miller fields sharp grounder

"I think the thing for me that was a little uncomfortable was when the ball went into the outfield and things started going in motion," Miller said. "You react from where you're comfortable at, and I had to really think about where I needed to be.

"That was something a couple of times I just have to be in a better spot. Those were the ones that were a little tough."

Going from shortstop to first base would seemingly bring less anxiety based on the fact there are fewer things to think about. Not so, said Miller.

"For me, there's more [to think about] because I'd never played it," Miller said. "So I think I'm just trying to make sure I'm in the right spot and I'm not afraid to ask. Just trying to keep it as simple as possible. But it was weird for sure."

Heading into Miller's debut, infield coach Tom Foley had conducted several sessions to help him master his new position. Cash told reporters that Foley gave Miller "rave" reviews.

"I know there's still a lot to learn as far as the little nuances of the footwork around the bag and the different reads off the bat," Cash said. "But Brad's an athlete. He'll adjust and he'll be good.

"We're going to get him a ton of reps in. I'm not going to sit here and say he's not going to play short anymore. But we wanted to get this started when he gave the thumbs up. And according to his work with [Foley], he felt comfortable to do it."

Matt Duffy, who was acquired from the Giants in the Matt Moore trade specifically to play shortstop for the Rays, is due to arrive any day. Currently he's wrapping up his rehab stint from a left Achilles strain.

Miller hasn't given up the idea of again being a shortstop. When asked before the game if he still viewed himself as a shortstop, he replied: "I'm playing first base today."

And the converted shortstop did a nice job.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.