Not long ago, Adam Miller was the brightest prospect in the Indians' farm system, a pitcher who could throw a fastball 100 miles per hour, touted as the next staff ace or possibly a star closer.
Then he hurt his right middle finger. How bad could a finger injury be? The finger became an issue in 2008, and Miller is nowhere near being able to pitch today. Multiple surgeries fixed one problem but created another: scar tissue that prevents his finger from being flexible enough to manipulate a ball.
He spends his days in the minor-league camp, keeping his body toned while he tries to tear the scar tissue that is keeping him from gripping a ball properly. He has been told to walk around squeezing a baseball in an effort to loosen the scar tissue. Until that happens, Miller cannot pitch. Whether he will ever pitch is problematical, and at 25, time is not on his side.
Russell Branyan was on the field this morning taking throws at first base during, as manager Manny Acta hit ground balls to two shortstops.
""It's taken all spring,'' Branyan said, ""but I'm getting there.''
Branyan has yet to play in an exhibition game because of a herniated disc. A decision will be made this weekend on whether he has enough time to get ready for the season opener.