PHOENIX — The night before the Brewers opened spring training, Wade Miley got the call.
All offseason, the 31-year-old left-hander had been patient. He had already tried out with a handful of teams throughout the offseason, but nothing had come to fruition.
“I had been waiting and waiting and waiting,” Miley said prior to his start against the White Sox on Tuesday. “Finally got someone to put it together, and I was blessed with an opportunity.”
Miley’s chance arrived in the form of a minor league contract offer from Milwaukee, inviting him to participate in the club’s big league camp.
Miley arrived after spending nearly two years with the Orioles, with whom he had struggled to find his groove. It culminated last season, as the former All-Star finished 8-15 with a career-worst 5.61 ERA across 32 starts.
This spring, Miley is intent on recapturing his old form and proving he belongs.
“You’ve gotta be driven when you’re trying to make a team, trying to earn a spot on the roster,” he said. “I feel like that’s how I’ve always been.”
During the offseason, Miley spent time with a childhood pitching coach, and the two made a few mechanical adjustments to his technique. Brewers manager Craig Counsell credited Miley for quickly identifying what he needed to change coming into the season, noting how forthright he’s been about dissatisfaction over his performance last year.
“(Miley) knew he had to do something different, wasn’t pleased with how he performed last year, and kind of went on a mission to try to solve that before he got here, not when he got here,” Counsell said. “He came into here really ready to go.”
By Counsell’s estimation, Miley’s preparation has paid dividends. It enabled Miley to have a longer leash in his spring debut against the Diamondbacks on Feb. 25, when he tossed two innings, relinquishing no runs on two hits and no walks, while striking out two batters. In Miley’s second outing March 1, also against Arizona, he pitched 2 1/3 innings, striking out five and giving up two hits and no walks. He didn’t allow any runs.
On Tuesday, Miley made his second start of the spring against the White Sox. He went 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs (none earned) on two hits and a walk. He struck out four.
Counsell said Miley has had a great spring thus far, adding that he’ll have more chances to prove himself as Milwaukee determines who will fill the team’s two vacant rotation spots.
“I think for all of these guys, you try to put yourself in a spot where you can be one of those answers,” Counsell said. “(Miley has) done that. He’s certainly a guy that we’re still talking about and considering. From that sense, he’s passed the first part of his test.”
Like Miley, many in the clubhouse are seeking to prove themselves after the team came up one game short of a Wild Card spot last season. Being around such a determined group has helped Miley seamlessly transition into a new clubhouse and fit in. Now, it’s a matter of maintaining a high level of play through the rest of the spring and into the regular season.
“I’m always going to do the best I can,” Miley said. “At this point in my career, it’s now or never.”