Adam Miller's career on the line
Adam Miller’s career is very much in jeopardy as a result of decreased range of motion and strength in his right middle finger.
After seeing two hand specialists on Monday and Tuesday, Miller was cleared to attempt to pitch at the Player Development Complex this morning. According to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Miller is experiencing no pain in the finger and he has his normal velocity. But because of his inability to fully bend the tip of the finger, he has none of his customary command of his pitches.
Miller now has a week to 10 days to prove he can adjust to what is essentially a change in anatomy and gain enough command to compete as a professional pitcher. If he doesn’t do so, the Indians will recommend that he has surgery to replace two pulley ligaments in his finger with a tendon from his wrist. If he has the surgery, he will be out of commission for six to nine months, and there is, of course, no guarantee that he’d be able to return to a competitive level.
So it’s not overly dramatic to say the next week to 10 days could decide whether Miller ever pitches for the Cleveland Indians — or anyone else, for that matter.
Why the 7-10 day deadline? Well, from the moment Miller experienced soreness in the finger on Feb. 27, the clock was ticking on the potential effectiveness of the surgical procedure. The longer he waits to have it, the less likely it is that it would be successful.
Why didn’t Miller have this surgery last year? If you remember, at the time, Miller had a hole in the finger that was leaking fluid. The surgery performed by Dr. Tom Graham sealed that hole and repaired one of the pulleys. But Graham could not do the reconstruction because of the risk of infection brought about by the hole.
Obviously, this is a very complicated issue — one I’ll do my best to explain in a story on Indians.com in a little bit. But the gist of it is that Miller threw a bullpen session this morning that was so wild that the Indians’ training and coaching staffs have reason to question whether he will be able to adjust enought to be a competitive professional pitcher. It’s a sad — and I’m sure frustrating — state of affairs for the 24-year-old once known as one of baseball’s top prospects.