Reliever Miller returns to Rockies organization
Reliever Jim Miller, a footnote in Colorado Rockies history, returned to the organization, having agreed to a minor league contract. The Rockies traded Miller and another minor league pitcher to the Orioles in January 2007 for pitcher Rodrigo Lopez. He suffered a season-ending arm injury in late July 2007, andultimately assumed Lopez’s spot in the rotation and helped the Rockies reach the postseason.
In addition to Miller, left-hander Josh Muecke, who will return to the organization for a second season, also agreed to a minor league contract. Muecke, 29, went 6-9 with a 5.94 ERA last year for Triple-A Colorado Springs in 25 games, 22 starts.
Miller, 28, was the Rockies eighth-round pick in 2004 out of Louisiana-Monroe. He went 1-0 with a 4.84 ERA last year in 33 games at Triple-A Norfolk with 18 walks, 53 strikeouts and nine homers allowed in 57 2/3 innings. Miller appeared in 158 games for Norfolk in the past four seasons.
The Orioles recalled Miller in September 2008 and that month, in his only stint in the big leagues, he appeared in eight games and 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA.
Miller, who will compete for a relief job with the Sky Sox, has a power arm and a fastball in the mid-90 mph range. But his secondary pitches are below average and he needs to develop a better feel for pitching.
In addition to Miller, the Rockies traded pitcher Jason Burch, whom they acquired from the Cardinals in the August 2004 deal for Larry Walker, for Lopez on Jan. 12, 2007. In 14 starts for the Rockies in 2007, Lopez went 5-4 with a 4.42 ERA. After a July 26 start, Lopez underwent surgery to reconstruct his right elbow and repair a torn right flexor tendon.
Jason Hirsh made two starts in Lopez’s turn in the rotation before suffering a fractured right fibula. After Tim Harrikala started once in that turn, Morales took over that spot in the rotation and helped the Rockies reach the postseason by going 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA in eight starts.
Miller is the third player originally drafted by the Rockies who returned to the organization this winter. Third baseman-second baseman Matt Macri, 28, drafted three picks ahead of Miller in the fifth round in 2004, and outfielder Jeff Salazar, 30, an eighth-round pick in 2002, recently signed minor league deals.