Miller's first live BP draws respect from teammates

Miller's first live BP draws respect from teammates

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brandon Guyer headed over to introduce himself to left-hander Andrew Miller last August. Both players had just been traded to the Indians, so Cleveland's new outfielder -- best known for his ability to hit left-handed pitching -- had a message for his new Tribe teammate.

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"I said, 'Nice to meet you, man. I'm glad I don't have to face you again,'" Guyer recalled with a laugh on Monday. "At least for the next couple years. Hopefully, never."

Guyer must not have factored Spring Training into account.

On Monday morning, Miller took the mound on Field 1 at Cleveland's spring complex, where Guyer was one of three hitters to face the relief ace in his first live batting practice workout of the year. With Yan Gomes behind the plate, Guyer and fellow Indians hitters Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez opted not to swing. Instead, they watched Miller pop Gomes' glove with a series of fastballs, sliders and changeups.

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Miller is not only prepping for the season ahead with Cleveland -- a club he helped reach the World Series after being acquired from the Yankees prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline -- but the lefty is gearing up for the World Baseball Classic. Miller, who is joining Team USA, might have a chance to face Santana, who will be playing for the Dominican Republic.

Asked about that possibility, Santana let out a laugh.

"We'll see what happens," Santana said. "[A clubhouse staffer] says he'll strike me out."

If Santana struck out on Monday, it was on called pitches.

"I wasn't going to swing," Santana said. "He looked great. He didn't surprise me. I've faced him before. He was throwing good. What I was happy about was he was working on his changeup."

After Miller's mound workout was over, the lefty shook the hand of Gomes and all three hitters, thanking them for standing in for the session.

Ramirez then gathered his equipment and headed off the field. Miller's slider darted low and in on the third baseman a handful of times, forcing Ramirez to kick his back foot out of the way. When Ramirez walked by reporters, he rolled his eyes and gave a look of exasperation. That said it all: Facing Miller is a tough assignment, even without taking any swings.

Miller appeared to be in fine form, as he ramps up for the Classic. Both Indians manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway have noted that they will be in communication with Team USA's staff to go over how the left-hander will be used. Francona has said multiple times already this spring that "my heart with be in my throat" every time Miller takes the mound in the tournament.

Miller said he would not participate if he felt the risk was too big.

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"I'm going to try to listen to my body and use these trainers, and I think I'll be OK," Miller said. "I wouldn't do it if I didn't think that was the case. Really, the most important thing is I'm here for the Cleveland Indians when it matters, and I'll do everything I can on that front. I think the positives outweigh the negatives."

The lefty added that he feels strong, even in the wake of last postseason's heavy workload.

"It's nice to feel good at this time," Miller said. "You feel like you're getting stronger and building toward the season at this point."

In the season ahead, Miller also will not have to worry about facing Guyer, who had a 1.021 OPS against lefties last year. That statistic was not on Miller's mind on Monday morning. He was more concerned with the fact that Guyer led baseball in times getting hit by pitches (31).

"I just didn't want to hit him," Miller quipped. "He's a magnet for that kind of thing."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.