The 23-year-old Miller has certainly seen worse. An elbow injury limited him to 15 starts in 2005. Last season, he strained that same middle finger and endured another elbow injury, missing a total of about two and a half months, as well as an opportunity to join the big league club. The finger strain then popped up again in his last start in the Arizona Fall League.
Coming into camp, the Indians' primary hope for Miller was that he could stay healthy this season at Triple-A Buffalo and eventually make his debut in the Majors. And while the blister can hardly be classified as a major threat to his progress, it is at least proving to be a slight distraction to his preparation.
"For who he is and what we've seen and know he can do, I don't think it will affect him too much," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "The things he needs to accomplish this spring, I would hope he's going to be able to do. He might not be stretched out to seven innings [at the end of camp], but I would hope we could get near five."
That's if the blister cooperates, of course. And thus far, it hasn't. Letting Miller throw his bullpen session with the blister partially healed caused it to start bleeding again.
"We're going to let it completely heal, then get started," Willis said. "That's the best route to go, so we don't risk him changing his delivery or arm slot or hand position."
Miller said he has had blisters before, but never one this bad.
The winner of the battle between Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey gets the fifth spot in the rotation.
As for the runners-up, a trip to the big league bullpen does not appear to be an option.
"That's not something we're considering right now," manager Eric Wedge said. "I wouldn't rule it out, but we're not considering that right now."
Born to run: Baserunning was a focal point of the Monday morning workouts, which were moved from the back fields to the main stadium at the Chain of Lakes complex.
The Indians position players lined up and darted around the basepaths in what looked like a track meet.
"When I was a player," Wedge was overheard to say, "I hated
After running the bases, the players headed to foul territory on the field's third-base side to practice their slides. They slid onto padded black mats to erase the threat of injury.
Here comes Slocum:
Right-hander Brian Slocum, who will begin '08 in the Buffalo bullpen, was shut down for a few days because of back spasms.
Slocum said the back issue has been resolved. He is expected to throw a bullpen session Tuesday.
"Then I'll get right back into it again," he said.
Despite not throwing, Slocum, an amateur barber, still managed to keep himself busy over the weekend, giving haircuts to several players. Grady Sizemore was one of his customers Sunday.
C.C. Sabathia will start Friday's game against the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla. In the meantime, he threw a 25-pitch, simulated session against six Indians hitters Monday morning.
The session went off without a hitch, save for a Jordan Brown grounder that glanced off Sabathia's outstretched hand. Sabathia was unharmed by the incident.
Pleased to meet you:
When Wedge's wife, Kate, gave birth to the couple's first son, Dalton Cash, last week, their 22-month-old daughter, Ava, was too sick to attend.
But Ava's all better now.
"They got to meet each other [Sunday]," Wedge said with a laugh.
The meeting was reportedly cordial.
The Tennessee men's basketball team became the No. 1 team in the nation with its win over Memphis on Saturday. But reliever Jensen Lewis predicts the Volunteers' reign will be short-lived.
Mark it down. Lewis, a Vanderbilt alum, predicts his Commodores, who are ranked 18th in the nation by the Associated Press, will be winners by a 76-72 count when they host the Vols on Tuesday night in Nashville.
"Then we storm the court," Lewis proudly proclaimed.
Aaron Laffey, a huge North Carolina fan who was seated nearby, heard Lewis' prediction and said, "Let's be realistic here."
But Lewis said the game will come down to free-throw shooting, which is not the Vols' strength.
"Tennessee should team up with Habitat for Humanity," he said. "They could build some sturdy houses with all those bricks."