Brad Miller is struggling to throw the ball

Will Vragovic/The Tampa Bay Times via AP

Rays shortstop Brad Miller has had a shaky start to spring training, at least defensively, as he’s struggling to throw the ball accurately. That is creating a lot of questions for the Rays to answer, as Marc Topkin noted for the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday.

Miller has three errors, tied for the second-most this spring. He’s one of six defenders with at least three errors and he has the second-fewest defensive innings of the bunch. It’s the continuation of a trend, as he has 21 throwing errors since the start of the 2013 season, one of only eight shortstops with at least that many, and he has by far the fewest defensive innings (2,235 1/3) among those eight.

What could the Rays do about this? They could platoon Miller with Tim Beckham. Nick Franklin could get the starting shortstop job rather than start the season with Triple-A Durham. Minor leaguers Taylor Motter or Daniel Robertson could get a look. James Loney could get more playing time at first base. The Rays could also trade Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer, then move Corey Dickerson to the outfield, which would allow Morrison and Steve Pearce to DH more often while Loney could play the field to help mitigate Miller’s inaccuracy.

The Rays acquired Miller along with Morrison and Danny Farquhar from the Mariners last November in exchange for Nate Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser, and minor leaguer Boog Powell. Miller was once a top prospect in the Mariners’ system but has thus far failed to live up to expectations.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).