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Report: Brad Miller could move to second base in 2017

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculates that Rays’ shortstop Brad Miller could see some time at second base in 2017. The team is hurting for infield depth after trading second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers last week and reportedly favors their internal options over another free agent pickup.

While Miller has the big league experience to stick at second, the Rays also have backup options in Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin and Daniel Roberts. The club hasn’t made any significant acquisitions since they swapped Forsythe for right-hander Jose De Leon, and Topkin doesn’t see many viable free agent options left on the market.

 

The 27-year-old shortstop batted .243/.304/.482 with a career-best 30 home runs and 81 RBI for the Rays in 2016. After the team traded for the Giants’ Matt Duffy in August, Miller was shifted from his full-time role at shortstop over to first base — a disappointing change for the infielder, per MLB.com’s Bill Chastain:

Obviously, I’m a shortstop. I’ve been working hard and doing everything, and playing well there. Yesterday was kind of a punch to the gut, them telling me he was their shortstop now.

 

With Miller at second, the Rays should have an easier time filling the void at first base. The pool of available free agent candidates includes Mark Reynolds, Mike Napoli and Chris Carter, the latter of whom delivered a league-best 41 home runs with the Brewers in 2016.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.