ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - For any player, reaching the big leagues is an accomplishment in its own right. For infielder Mike Miller, summoned by the Red Sox from Pawtucket Monday, the callup couldn't be more improbable.
Start with the fact that Miller, listed officially five-foot-nine, is, in reality, five-foot-six - tops. Add in the fact that he was 11th round pick as a senior from Cal Poly Tech and you begin to understand how much of a longshot Miller is.
Then, add in the fact that injuries conspired to have him miss almost all of 2013 and half of 2014, and Miller's journey is truly a remarkable one.
All of which made it all the more difficult for Miller to keep his emotions under wraps late Sunday night. Miller was riding a bus outside Rochester, N.Y. with the rest of the Pawtucket Red Sox when manager Kevin Boles, sitting a few rows ahead of him on the bus, sent Miller an email informing him that he was going to the big leagues.
But the email contained a caveat from Boles.
"He didn't want to make a big commotion of it on the bus,'' said Miller, "so he told me to keep it quiet and don't show a lot of emotion, but congratulations. It was hard because you've got all your friends on the bus and you want to talk to them about it and share your excitement. But at the same time, you respect the manager's wishes, but there were (corresponding) moves to make and he didn't want it getting out because someone else might not know what's going on.
"It was hard (keep quiet), but you do what you're told.''
Between making phone calls to family members and friends and the natural excitement he felt, Miller got virtually no sleep before a 4:30 a.m. trip to the airport. But sleep could wait on a night like that.
"It's a dream come true,'' said Miller. "I wasn't expecting it -- at all. So to get the opportunity to come up here and play at the highest level is a dream come true. I started my Red Sox career with Mookie Betts in Lowell, so it's cool to catch up to some of those guys and see them a few years later. I'm just really happy and excited to be here.''
Miller's numbers aren't eye-popping at the minor league level. He was .256 with seven doubles in 46 games, and he's not likely to stay with the team past Friday, when the Sox are expecting Brock Holt to return.
But the Sox needed another infielder to get back to a four-man bench, and Miller was the consensus choice. For however long his callup lasts, he'll enjoy it, especially considering what he's overcome.
"You're not a bonus baby,'' he said. "But at the same time, you just go out and compete. When you're on the field, you don't think anybody is better than you. It doesn't matter what round they were (selected) or whether they're a high school guy or (drafted as a) junior or senior. So when you put the cleats on, you play to the best of your ability and see where that takes you.''
The injuries in 2013 (torn quad) and 2014 (broken hammate bone) only fueled his desire.
"There were some tough moments, some frustration over not being able to play,'' he said. "Not being able to control things (was tough). But it also teaches you some things about patience and there's that appreciation that when you are healthy, make sure you go out and play hard every day. If you take the right mindset, you learn from it and get better.''
Miller can play all over the infield. He played shortstop in college, but has mostly played third and second in the minors.
"I've been acclimated to all three,'' said Miller. "I work hard with our instructors to understand all the nuances of all the positions, so I'm comfortable at any of them. Wherever I get the chance to play, I just want to help the team win that night.''
For however long it lasts, Miller will savor it.
"I couldn't ask for a better feeling,'' said Miller. "There are some odds against you -- senior, smaller guy, not a big-time college program. So I've had kind of fight my whole career to keep moving, keep moving. To get here is a really good feeling.''