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July 3, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Brad Miller clicks on double plays


(Photo by Getty Images)

(Still awaiting an update on pitcher Danny Hultzen).

Rookie shortstop Brett Miller turned four double plays last night — three of them of the 6-3 variety — to become the first Mariners player to turn four DPs since Brendan Ryan on July 7, 2012. But the one that pleased Miller the most was the one in which he combined with second baseman Nick Franklin, a 6-4-3 in the fifth inning on a ball hit by A.J. Pierzynski.

“Me and Franky were talking, we hadn’t had a double play yet, I think,” Miller said. “He said, ‘Hey, let’s get our first one.’ That’s the one Pierzynski hit me, and we turned it. Joe (Saunders) kept getting ground balls right there. It was perfect. Those were good for us, got us back in the dugout and let us keep hitting.”

Miller and Franklin are trying to build the rapport that is necessary in the keystone combo. They worked together in spring training before heading off to different teams, Miller to Double-A Jackson and Franklin to Triple-A Tacoma. When Miller was moved up to Tacoma, they played just one game before Franklin was promoted to the Mariners. But Miller believes they are working better together each day.

“Spring training was awesome,” he said. “I know we started in a game against the Giants together, another game against the Giants at their place. We had four or five games, and every day in practice. It’s been awesome. I feel like we’re on the same page a lot. We like to talk out there and stay into it. It’s been fun.

“I like playing with him. He’s a lot of fun to play with and watch out there. He’s really exciting. It’s fun to think we played together a couple of times when we were 15, 16 in Florida. It’s a small world. It’s crazy how things work out. We love getting to reunite up here.”

He’s referring to an All-Star showcase when Miller was a senior and Franklin was a junior, both in the Orlando, Florida area.

“We were on the Central Florida team in Lakeland,” Miller recalled. “Everyone’s a shortstop back then. We played short and third together, short and second. That was the last time we played together.”

Manager Eric Wedge was impressed with Miller’s defensive efforts on Tuesday.

“Some of those ball were hit pretty good,” he said. “They weren’t right at him. He’s showing some first step, showing some quickness, showing some quick twitch. Those are all good things.”

Tomorrow, Miller will face Rangers starter Martin Perez for the first time since March 3, when he hit a line drive in a spring training game in Surprise that struck Perez on his left forearm and fractured a bone. Perez had been vying for a spot in the Ranger rotation but wound up on the disabled list to start the season.

“Right when hit it, I saw it going back at him,” Miller recalled. “I know I caught him on his arm, and he missed some time, which is unfortunate. I’m glad he’s healthy now. Just from a fan’s standpoint and a baseball standpoint, you hate to see anyone get hurt. I’m glad it didn’t hit him in the head and it wasn’t more serious.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to think. A lot of mixed emotions, but it’s just the worst to have anybody miss time, whether it’s the other team or not. I’m glad to see he’s doing well and everything. It feels like just yesterday, but it’s been a little bit. You want everybody to be healthy so you can compete against everybody’s top. I’m glad he’s back out there.”

In other news, Wedge said tonight could be the night Tom Wilhelmsen gets the call to close — or not.

“It depends on where we are,” he said. “That’s kind of a tricky lineup over there. If I felt like the people coming up were good for him, yeah, I’d throw him back in there. If not, I’d probably go to Oliver (Perez).”

Speaking of Perez, Wedge rated him as one of three Mariners’ All-Star candidates, along with, of course, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.



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