Cleveland Indians: Comeback Story of the Year?

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Cleveland Indians: Comeback Story of the Year?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Does the name Adam Miller ring a bell? It should.

Miller, 26, was the first-round draft choice of the Cleveland Indians in the 2003 MLB amateur draft, and just a few years ago was considered the future of the Indians pitching staff. Entering the 2007 season, Miller was Baseball America's No. 23-rated prospect in all of baseball. The 6'4", 200 lbs. flame-thrower was considered, at the time, to be the next Justin Verlander.

In 2009, the Plano, TX native ran into a major speed bump. Miller was experiencing tightness and pain in the middle finger of his throwing hand. He would go on to have three surgeries on that finger alone in '09, and it looked as though Miller's career was in severe jeopardy.

Many figured Miller would never pitch again. They said his fastball would never be the same after ligaments were reconstructed in his middle finger.

Now it looks as though Miller is poised to make an improbable comeback, getting the opportunity to give "the finger" to anyone who doubted it could happen.

“My offseason was good as I pretty much threw and lifted,” said Miller.  “At first I was just throwing two times a week at like 60 feet—nothing crazy—just to keep the feel.  I ended up taking about three weeks off from throwing just to shut it down a little but, and then I started back up throwing in mid-December [to get ready for the season]. 

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"There were no restrictions, and it was a normal offseason, I guess you could say.  I am pretty much a normal guy out here for the most part.  There are some things I may not do yet, but for the most part, everything is good and I am just going out there and having some fun.”

The Indians are only restricting the number of pitches Miller is throwing in camp; otherwise, he is being treated like just another pitcher. Most pitchers are throwing bullpen sessions every other day to condition their arms for the season. Miller is throwing every three days instead.

“That’s the only thing, as right now bullpens are back to back. So instead of every other day, I am going with two days in between,” said Miller.  “I guess it is a semi-restriction, but it is pretty minor.  It actually could be a good thing, because in ’09 coming in, I think the thing that was different was the volume coming in which resulted in the finger getting sore again.”

So far, Miller explains, the finger feels good.

“I’m good and the arm feels good,” said Miller.  “Now it is just getting my rhythm back since I haven’t really pitched since ’09.  The last two years I haven’t really been able to get that feel back.  The last bullpen [on Thursday] went really well, so hopefully it is back or so you would say.”

If Miller continues his current progress, there is a great chance he will end up in Triple-A Columbus, making his improbable comeback that much closer. Tribe fans who know Miller's story are beginning to show their support at Indians' camp in Goodyear, AZ—letting him know they are behind his effort.

“I’m just excited to be back,” said Miller.  “It’s a lot different from last year as all I could do was cover first in spring training.  I am pretty pumped for games right now.  That’s all I care about. As long as I am throwing it’s great.”

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