BOSTON — It wasn’t until Ian Miller met with the media Thursday, the day after his major league debut, that the name Archie “Moonlight” Graham was brought to his attention.
Graham, made famous by the movie “Field of Dreams,” played in one major league game, appearing in the outfield without getting an at-bat for the New York Giants in 1905. Miller’s major league career isn’t likely to take the same path, though he did enter Wednesday night’s game for the Twins in the bottom of the seventh as a centerfielder and was removed for pinch hitter Mitch Garver in the ninth without getting an at-bat.
Manager Rocco Baldelli has said that speedy Miller will “get his opportunity to get up to the plate and take some swings at some point, hopefully soon.”
But it’s not like Miller would complain if he didn’t get an at-bat. Miller said he would do anything to help his team win — even if it meant cleaning the dugout in the fifth inning.
“We heard really positive things about him as a teammate, as a person, work ethic, things like that. Just a really good character guy coming in. That’s all held true in every way. He’s thanked us all numerous times,” Baldelli said. “He’s told us, ‘I’ll probably thank all of you again a few more times,’ which he then proceeded to do. But he’s been great. He gets his work in, he’s ready to play. He just says, ‘Anything you need me to do, I’m here to help.’ “
Miller, 27, was drafted by the Mariners in the 14th round of the 2013 draft and remained in their minor league system until August, when he was traded to the Twins. He has swiped 243 bases in his minor league career, including 35 this season.
“I’m not just trying to steal a base to steal a base. It’s meaningful. I’m trying to steal second base to get into scoring position. I’m trying to steal third base to get a sac fly opportunity,” Miller said. “I was stealing to steal during that minor league season to get an opportunity up here. When I got to Rochester, they sat me down and they wanted me to steal meaningful bases.”
Miller didn’t get an at-bat, but he did get a welcoming from the Fenway faithful while standing on-deck.
As Miller waited during a prolonged Willians Astudillo at-bat, the heckles about his .000 batting average started turning a bit nicer.
“There was a long time and I was standing there and these guys were heckling me behind me, ‘You stink. Your batting average is so low,’ ” Miller said. “Then they looked me up and were like, ‘Oh my god, it’s your debut. Good luck!’ I was chuckling a little bit, but I was just remaining in the game, remaining present and trying to just be in the moment.”
He was also able to go into the Green Monster, where he had the opportunity to write his name on a wall filled with famous names. Next to his name, he jotted down the names of his late father and uncle.
So even though he is still awaiting his first at-bat, Miller has made the most of his first taste of the big leagues.
“To be honest, if there’s a uniform on me and there’s a number on my back and a city on my chest, it’s cool, but being here and being with the team, a World Series-caliber team, it’s mind-blowing,” Miller said.
- Baldelli said they would likely have updates on some of the team’s injured players when the team returns home from its 10-day road trip. “We don’t have any dramatic announcements. It’s basically day-to-day with these guys,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to continue to treat them and see how they’re doing.”
- Jorge Polanco was out of the lineup Thursday after leaving Wednesday’s game early with a sore finger. “It’s been something that he’s been dealing with one way or another for a little while,” Baldelli said.
- The Twins are expecting big crowds this weekend at Target Field for their series against the Indians. Saturday’s game is sold out, with just standing-room access available.