Rule 5 pick Milner returned from Tribe

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“When I got Rule 5’d, I didn’t really see it as my spot to lose,” Milner said earlier this spring. “It was just kind of like the Indians paid for me to try out, basically. That’s the way I took it. That’s just how it is. If they want to carry three lefties in the bullpen, good. If not, I’m not necessarily just playing for the Indians. I’m playing for whoever wants me, if the Indians don’t.”

Last season, the 26-year-old Milner turned in a 2.49 ERA between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in Philadelphia’s system. In 65 innings between both levels, the lefty struck out 76 and issued 15 walks, limiting left-handed hitters to a .230 average.

When Cleveland selected Milner from the Phillies, it was still trying to compile options for a left-handed specialist role in the bullpen. That job was filled Feb. 6, when the Indians reeled in Logan with a one-year contract that includes a team option for 2018.

Given that a Rule 5 draftee must remain in the big leagues for an entire season, Milner’s chances of making Cleveland’s roster dropped dramatically after Logan was signed.

“He’s interesting, is probably the best word,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Milner on Friday morning. “With his deception and the angles that he throws from, he’s kind of built to face lefties. The last spot in our bullpen, are we going to realistically be able to carry a guy for a whole year? I think those are the things we’re trying to ask ourself, because, yeah, he is interesting. He’s a great kid.”

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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