Hitting slumps have rarely been a problem for Brad Miller.
The former Clemson star and ACC player of the year burned his way through a rapid minor league ascent, batting .334 at the A and AA levels, and then virtually skipped AAA on the way to a starting shortstop spot with the Seattle Mariners.
He batted .265 with 8 homers in 73 games in Seattle at the end of last season, and then hit over .400 during the team's Cactus League warm-up this spring.
The first half of the 2014 season has proved to be a struggle, however, as Miller's batting average dipped sharply after a promising start and bottom out at .515 in late May, earning him a three-game benching.
His re-start has been considerably more encouraging.
He had a pair of hits in Seattle's 2-1 victory over Kansas City on Saturday, raising his average over the .200 mark and extending a career-best hitting streak to seven games. He's currently sitting at .207, with six homers and six doubles.
He's hitting .291 in his last 23 games.
Mariners' manager Lloyd McClendon has more patience than insight regarding Miller's rare slump.
“I don’t have this great revelation, if that’s what you’re asking me,” McClendon told the Seattle Times about Miller’s recent uptick. “I don’t. I think he’s a certain type of player, and I’m still waiting to see it...
“You don’t see his kind of numbers in the minor leagues - not even from a Robby Cano.”
Miller has no secret answer, either.
“I feel more comfortable in there,” Miller said. “I feel a little more like myself. But just battling. That’s part of it. I wanted to play. I was confident in myself and wanted to help. But he gave me that time, and I used it. I used it to slow down and regroup.”
Miller's resurgence at the plate has been accompanied by improvement in the field, as well. In his past 23 games, he's committed just one error. He had eight in his first 40 contests.
“The one thing we forget, particularly with young players, when they’re not hitting, it’s hard to play the game of baseball,” McClendon told the Times. "It’s really hard because nothing is going right. When you start to get a few hits, your confidence goes up and you relax in the field.”
Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc