Aaron Miles, this season's surprise, makes good all over
Yeah! See, it isn’t all bad.
Miles is this season’s unexpected Dodgers surprise, one of the pleasant variety. He’s come fairly out of nowhere to become a valuable part of this year’s team.
There wasn’t much attention paid when the Dodgers signed Miles in the offseason as a non-roster invitee. They already had one versatile diminutive infielder in Jamey Carroll. Yawns abounded. Miles seemed insurance headed for triple-A.
But in the spring, Miles hit .321 with a .528 slugging percentage. When Casey Blake started the season on the disabled list, Miles had made the team. It figured a brief stay.
Except he’s never left. Starting infielders Rafael Furcal, Juan Uribe and Blake all took turns on the disabled list. Ivan De Jesus Jr. did not develop. Juan Castro hit like Juan Castro.
And Miles, 34, delivered. All over the field and all over the lineup.
Miles told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez that part of his improved hitting (he batted .185 for the White Sox in 2009) can be credited to offseason laser surgery. He’s certainly seeing the field.
He has played second, third and some shortstop. The switch-hitter has started at least two games at every spot in the lineup by cleanup and the hitter’s spot.
"I like to use him all over," said Manager Don Mattingly.
Of course, opportunity has arisen not only because of injury, but the general woeful state of the team. I don’t think anyone is confusing Miles as a legitimate No. 5 hitter (he has one homer), but he’s started there seven times. He’s led off eight times, batted second 26 times.
"I enjoy it," Miles told Dodgers.com’s A.J. Cassavell. "I feel like I have the ability to plug in my approach anywhere. Personally, I feel like I'm a [No. 2] guy. I can do leadoff, I can do anywhere. You know I'm gonna give a competitive at-bat.
"I know I'm not a true power five-hole guy, obviously. But I really like hitting fifth, with that chance to knock guys in and give the team a chance to win."
He offers killer versatility. And on a team that’s struggled with injury all season, he’s proved a surprising addition.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers’ Aaron Miles, right, is congratulated by teammate Matt Kemp after scoring a run against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press