There’s little chance the Mariners can start the regular season with shortstops Brad Miller and Chris Taylor both on the roster, according to manager Lloyd McClendon.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has a little more than a month to decide if Brad Miller or Chris Taylor will begin the regular season as Seattle’s starting shortstop after both had sporadic success in 2014.
The loser is likely to start the season in Triple-A Tacoma.
“If we don’t have injuries,” McClendon told The News Tribune Thursday. “I doubt we can take them both.”
Let’s recap the position battle:
Miller, 25, is viewed as the better hitter despite posting a .221/.288/.365 slash line with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 123 games last season. Taylor, recalled from the Rainiers in late July, is viewed as the more natural defensive shortstop. In 47 games, the 24-year-old out of the University of Virginia amounted to a slap hitter, batting .287 with a .692 OPS.
It’s a tough choice for the organization, especially given that top shortstop prospect Ketel Marte, 21, will likely begin the season in Tacoma.
McClendon last season toyed with the idea of Miller moving to the outfield. The Clemson product even worked there with position coach Andy Van Slyke.
However, McClendon nixed the possibility during the January media luncheon after the Mariners traded for outfielders Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano earlier in the offseason. Plus, former Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is set to platoon with Dustin Ackley in left field and fill a utility role, so the outfield is more crowded than a year ago.
As of now, neither Miller nor Taylor is considered the favorite to win the shortstop job. Publicly, anyway.
“They both saw significant time last year and only one of them can play short as this team shapes up,” he said. “I like both guys. They both bring a lot to the table. I think Chris is probably a little bit ahead of the game defensively and Brad is ahead of the game offensively. It’s a nice combination and let’s see what happens.”