Indians' Miller Returns After Series Of Setbacks





CLEVELAND—Adam Miller is pitching again. And that in itself is somewhat of a miraculous achievement.

The Tribe's former top prospect hadn't pitched for an Indians affiliate since May 20, 2008, at Triple-A. Now a 26-year-old reliever, the righthander has adapted to throwing the ball after four surgeries performed by Baltimore hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham. He still doesn't have complete feeling in the tip of the surgically repaired digit. He cannot bend it on his own or make a fist.

"I never thought I wouldn't throw again," Miller said. "It was a matter of if I could compete again. For a while there, I had no idea where the ball was going when I let it go. I had to re-learn how to throw, but I wasn't ready to give up on baseball."

Miller's finger woes began in 2007 when a ligament strain limited him to 19 games. It was again an issue in 2008 when he made six regular season starts before the first surgery. When the finger failed to respond after the initial surgery to re-attach the tendon to the bone, Miller had two more surgeries to reconstruct the flexor tendon. As he rehabbed in 2009, Miller suffered another setback and was scheduled for a fourth surgical procedure.

"I was feeling well, pretty close to perfect," he said. "I started throwing again and was at the three-month time period about to go into the offseason when it went again. There's been no way to tell with this injury because it's rare for baseball players. Doctors say the only people they tend to see it with are rock climbers. So I was in pretty unfamiliar territory."

Miller is now throwing his fastball for strikes and has a feel for his changeup as well.

"We're very encouraged where Adam is right now," farm director Ross Atkins said. "There's plenty of reason to believe he could eventually make his way (to the major leagues). The arm strength and competitive spirit are there. If he can continue to have the fastball command and find some consistency with his slider, then we'll have something."

SMOKE SIGNALS

• Lefthander Nick Hagadone earned a promotion to Triple-A Columbus. The 25-year-old reliever had a 1.52 ERA, 25 strikeouts and eight walks in 24 innings for Double-A Akron.

•n Outfielder LeVon Washington, the Indians' second-round pick out of Chipola (Fla.) JC last year, joined low Class A Lake County and was hitting .227/.358/.273 through 12 games.