Corky Miller may not play baseball much longer but never doubt his devotion and passion for the game.
By KEVIN GOHEENFS Ohio
CINCINNATI – Twitter is a dangerous medium sometimes but every so often there are pearls of truth to be found. Such as from the person who posted Wednesday afternoon: “If you don’t like Corky you don’t like baseball.”
That says all you need to know about Corky Miller.
Who knows how much longer Miller will be playing the game but no one should ever doubt his devotion or passion while he’s still in uniform. Miller drove in a pair of runs with his first career two-double game and blocked the plate on what proved to a vital would-be run as the Reds beat Oakland 6-5 Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
Miller had to leave the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with what was described as a right quad contusion, an injury that was the result of stonewalling A’s second baseman Alberto Callaspo as Callaspo attempted to score from second base on a hit to right field by catcher Stephen Vogt in the fourth inning. Jay Bruce’s throw was on the money to Miller, a foot or so up the line. Callaspo left the game immediately with a forearm injury.
Miller played one more defensive inning but was lifted for pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco in the fifth inning.
“I’m sore. He got me on the knee pretty good,” said Miller after the game. He had a stiff limp to his walk. He gingerly pulled up his jeans, a slight grimace in his face, but two hits, two RBI and doing his job behind the plate eased the pain. Especially with his family, including sons Cadden and Chase, in the ballpark.
“I would love to give those (hits) to my family.”
Corky Miller could run for mayor of Louisville, and probably win as long as Rick Pitino wasn’t his opponent. He’s been with the Reds’ organization since signing with them as an undrafted free agent in 1998, and much of his playing career has been at the Triple-A level with the Louisville Bats. He’s second in career games played for the Bats, fourth in at-bats and hits, and second in doubles for the organization.
Wednesday was just the 213th game in the majors for Miller since he first got a call-up from the Reds in 2001. It was his 150th career game played as a Red. He’s on the roster now because Ryan Hanigan is injured and has been starting when Homer Bailey pitches. Hanigan is due to come off the DL shortly, possibly as early as Friday in time for the next game against San Diego.
But Miller is not your average fill-in. He’s no starry-eyed rookie trying to find his way. He knows his way.
“Corky Miller is a ball player and he epitomizes what we do and the way people should go about things professionally,” said Bruce. “He’s a professional in every sense of the word. Yeah, he’s not Johnny Bench or Joe Mauer or anything like that but he’s going to come out here and play the game the right way. He knows how to handle a pitching staff. He knows what it takes and that’s something every team can use. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Miller doubled in his first at-bat off of Bartolo Colon in the second inning, going down the right field line to score Zack Cozart all the way from first base and put the Reds up 2-1. He took Colon down the left field line to the wall to again score Cozart from first base in the third inning and push the lead to 5-1.
It was the first time in his career that Miller had doubled twice in a game at the big league level, and his first two-hit game since July 20, 2010. The last time he knocked in two runs in a game was Oct. 2, 2010.
His tag out of Callaspo nipped a potential A’s rally in the bud. Vogt’s single did score one run to make it a 5-2 game but Miller’s block of the plate ended the inning. Devin Mesoraco, pinch-hitting for Miller in the fifth, drove in the Reds’ final run with an infield hit to make it 6-2.
“It’s not just today. Obviously two hits is good but if I’d had went oh-for-four and Homer had pitched into the seventh that would have been just the same,” said Miller. “(Mark) Stefanski, who has been a good friend of the bullpen catchers and our catching coach, said savor the day because my family is here and I don’t know if they’ll be able to see me again because school is going to start and who knows what is going to happen next year. I go out there every day like it might be my last and try to help the ballclub win.”