In Wade's world, nothing bothers D-backs lefty
Worry-free pitcher faces uncertain role with simple approach
PHOENIX -- How does Wade Miley deal with the uncertainty of whether he is going to be a starter or a reliever?
The same way he deals with everything that comes his way. The D-backs left-hander keeps things simple. Real simple.
"I don't let it bother me," Miley said. "I try not to overthink too much. I don't want to be caught up thinking about that. I just want to pitch, whether it's out of the bullpen or as a starter."
Miley has found that less is definitely more when it comes to thinking. It's something that his teammates love to tease him about.
"They're always on my case about something, no matter what it is," Miley said. "I've always been that way. I try not to think. When I start thinking, I get in trouble. I do things I shouldn't do or say things I shouldn't say."
That philosophy helped Miley deal with an uncertain situation this spring.
After making eight appearances (seven starts) for the D-backs down the stretch last year, Miley reported to camp without a job after the team added starter Trevor Cahill during the offseason in a trade with the A's.
"I didn't know what was going on," Miley said of his chances of making the team. "I was just going to enjoy the time I was there, and if I got sent down, enjoy the time there and stick with it."
It was assumed Miley would start the season with Triple-A Reno, but as he continued to pitch well during the spring, the D-backs began to warm to the idea of keeping him as a long man in the bullpen.
The move paid dividends for Arizona, as Miley came on in relief in each of Josh Collmenter's abbreviated first two starts of the year. He tossed four scoreless innings in the first outing and three in the second.
"Throwing up zeros in a situation like that is really big for us," D-backs ace Ian Kennedy said. "It allows our offense to chisel away at whatever lead they have."
After a third relief appearance, Miley was pressed into duty as a starter on Monday against the Phillies when Daniel Hudson was placed on the disabled list, and he came up big. In six shutout innings, Miley allowed just two hits.
"What really impressed me in his start is that he really pounded the strike zone, and the innings went so fast," Kennedy said. "It's good for your defense."
The D-backs are loaded with pitching prospects in their organization. Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin have received the bulk of attention.
Miley, a supplemental first-round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, has mostly flown under the radar.
"He's not afraid, he just goes out there and competes," catcher Miguel Montero said. "That's what I like the most about him. Plus, he's got a great arm. There's no doubt about that. I remember being in Spring Training, and all they were talking about was Corbin and Skaggs and Bauer. I remember telling [bullpen coach Glenn] Sherlock, 'Man, they're kind of forgetting about Miley.' I think he's good -- great, actually."
Despite Miley's impressive start, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was not immediately ready to say for sure whether Miley would join the rotation permanently or return to the bullpen.
And if anyone is equipped to deal with the uncertainty, it's Miley, and his ability to do that is something that has perplexed his family.
"Everybody in my family worries," Miley said. "My dad and my brother worry about everything. I'm just worry free. Everything happens for a reason, so I just go with the flow and make adjustments along the way. I don't make plans -- just whatever happens, happens in life. I don't let too much worry me, I don't stress about too much at all."
Miley will go over scouting reports before his starts, but he keeps that simple, too, once he takes the mound by throwing whatever his catcher calls. He said he's never gone against what his catcher has recommended.
"Whatever the catcher calls, I'm going to throw, just because I'm more comfortable that he's seen the hitters more than I have, so I trust what he's going to call," Miley said. "That takes that part of thinking away, so really I just go out there and throw it."
Gibson said that Miley may do more thinking than he lets on.
"When he's on the mound, he's a lot smarter than anybody might give him credit for," Gibson said. "He's not throwing down the middle, he knows where it's going. He's not worried about the ball going into play. He's a confident young man. Very unique. He's Wade-like. He's in Wade's world. He's a little different. Different sense of humor, he takes things with a grain of salt. He likes to pitch. He doesn't get bogged down on the negative aspects of his life."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.