09/09/12 5:15 PM ET
Miley not getting caught up in big rookie season
By Chelsea Janes / MLB.com
Certainly a season like this would exceed any rookie's expectations. But for Miley, being among the top starting pitchers in his first full season simply wasn't on the radar.
"I kind of expected to be in the bullpen, so I really didn't expect much," Miley said. "Just wanted to get in the clubhouse and not look back. I've always been a starter, I like doing it, so when I got an opportunity I didn't want to lose it."
That doesn't seem to be something Miley has to worry about anymore.
His 3.07 ERA is the best among all first-year hurlers who've started more than 18 games. His 123 strikeouts are fourth among big league rookies, and these numbers have many throwing Miley's name into the mix for National League Rookie of the Year.
But the southpaw isn't really concerned about that.
"It's whatever. I don't put too much thought on that stuff," Miley said. "If it happens, it happens. If not, I'm going to wake up the next morning and do whatever. It's not going to break my heart or anything."
Miley came up for a stretch with the D-backs at the end of last season, going 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA in eight games (seven starts) after making his Major League debut Aug. 20. That stretch, he believes, was a big part of his ability to succeed this year, as was getting off to a hot start.
"Last year when I first got up I was a little starstruck -- like light in your eyes a little bit," Miley said. "I just didn't feel as comfortable as I feel now, I guess. And then, after having some success early [this year], I just got in a rhythm, built a good relationship with the catchers, and it helps out a lot."
Eaton running wild in first taste of Majors
SAN DIEGO -- With eight hits in 21 at-bats in his first four Major League games, it doesn't look like D-backs rookie outfielder Adam Eaton is having any trouble adjusting to the big leagues.
But Eaton is by no means totally comfortable in the Majors just yet.
"I was talking to Eaton. He said, 'When do things get normal?,'" D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "It's different."
"I don't know if it's ever what you expect it to be -- you don't really know what to expect," Eaton said of life in the big leagues. "It's been a fun experience. ... I don't know if you ever expect -- well, you expect the unexpected, basically. But it's been a fun ride thus far."
That ride began in San Francisco on a night Eaton would never forget.
"The national anthem my first game in San Francisco was something. It was basically kind of the key of like, 'Wow, this is amazing,'" Eaton said. "It was loud there in San Francisco, 41,000 people just yelling and screaming, and you sit with the national anthem going off, it was giving me some chills."
That Eaton was able to push the hostile home of a division rival to the back of his mind and come up with two hits in his Major League debut made quite an impression on his manager.
"If you look at the environment he went into, his first environment: San Francisco. Night game. Very, very loud. Huge outfield. Windy, foggy, put all the elements in there," Gibson said. "[Fans are] burying him out there every inning -- that's what they do in the outfield. So, by no means would you be comfortable."
But if Eaton was uncomfortable, it certainly hasn't showed. Eaton has three multi-hit showings in his first four games, including a career-high three hits in Saturday night's win.
"As a ballplayer, if you didn't think that you were going to have that kind of success, you wouldn't be here," Eaton said. "Everyone wants to get on the ground running. ... When you want something and it happens you shouldn't be surprised."
"Hitting the ground running" is an apt metaphor for what the speedy Eaton has done since joining the D-backs. He's roamed center field in place of the injured Chris Young, while also wreaking havoc on the basepaths and with infield hits.
"I love his style of play," Gibson said. "I don't know that we've ever had a prototypical leadoff hitter since I've been here, and that's what you would hope that he can do: Be a spark plug at the top. One of his ex-teammates told me yesterday: 'He's the type of guy who'd be the last guy I'd ever want to play against.' He's very disruptive."
Montero happy with heavy workload behind plate
SAN DIEGO -- When D-backs manager Kirk Gibson told catcher Miguel Montero he was going to give him a day off during last week's series in Los Angeles, his star backstop was, well, devastated.
"I was going to give him the day off. ... He said, 'Oh, please don't do that. Please don't do that to me,'" Gibson said.
For Montero, who has played more games (262) over the past two seasons than any other National League catcher, there's nothing worse than sitting out.
"I love to play. Something I don't like to do is sit and watch a baseball game," Montero said. "So I work hard in the offseason just to be able to stay in good shape, be able to feel strong enough to be in the field every day. And I do take a lot of pride. I was benched for 2 1/2 years in the Major Leagues, so I gotta make up for those two years."
Montero, 28, played a career-high 140 games in 2011, a number he's in position to reach again this year, having played 122 including Sunday's game. His 1,025 innings caught are the most in the National League, and mark his second straight season of 1,000-plus innings behind the plate. Day games after late games -- like on Sunday -- are normally the territory of a backup catcher, but even in mid-September, Montero is in the lineup and darned happy about it.
"I'm not going to lie, I don't feel tired. I feel good," Montero said. "I feel like I'm swinging the bat better. I feel like I'm catching better than early in the year, so it is what it is, I love to play."
The key to doing that, he believes, is hard work in the offseason and even the first half of the regular season, which allows his body to hold up down the stretch.
"Early in the season I work really hard weight-room wise. I work really hard trying to stay on top of my physical condition," Montero said. "I try to stay as strong as possible. And when it comes to the second half, I try to push it back a little bit. Normally I do four, five days working out early, but at this point, I might do just twice a week."
"His program after the game, what he does for recovery is on top of things," Gibson said. "He takes care of himself. We believe in certain things that you like to do to start the recovery process for the next day, and he's really diligent about that. If I thought he as jeopardizing his health or long-term ability to play, I would rest him."
Montero's play certainly doesn't seem to be affected by his heavy workload. Since 2009, the Venezuela native is second among National League catchers in homers (57), doubles (103), RBIs (262), and slugging percentage (.461). He's also doing it defensively. His 63 runners caught stealing since 2011 is tops in the National League, while his four passed balls this season are the fewest among all Major League catchers who have caught more than 100 games.
If he has his way, Montero will be putting up numbers like that day in and day out for a very long time.
"I'm a believer that if you prepare yourself good, you're going to be good for a long time. Look at Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge, he always prepared himself really good. He didn't retire -- they retired him," Montero said. "Because he was in good shape to keep playing. Probably his bat speed wasn't the same, but that's normal, he's 40 years old. But he caught more than anybody in baseball.
"I want to catch more than anybody in baseball."
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.