PITTSBURGH -- The Marlins haven't exactly thrown in the towel on the 2010 season. But by signing veteran Wes Helms to a one-year, $1 million extension Wednesday, it's fair to say they're already at least thinking about 2011.
Helms, 35, hasn't necessarily done anything on the field to deserve it. He's hitting .225 -- nearly 50 points less than he did last year (.271) and his 22 RBI and pinch-hitting numbers (4 for 31, .129) isn't anything to brag about. But this move wasn't made for Helms the player as much as it was for Helms the clubhouse leader.
"I want to be here and be a leader for these young guys," Helms said. "With [Mike] Stanton, Logan Morrison and [Chris] Coghlan coming back, Gaby [Sanchez], I want to keep helping them mature for another year. I think it could benefit them. They're on their way to being superstars and I want to be a part of that, helping them grow."
Helms has made it no secret he would like to become a manager down the road. Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said he thinks the way Helms relates to young players would naturally make him very good at it.
"He could be an outstanding coach or manager, not only because of the way he manages people but the way he relates to people and his knowledge for the game. He has a lot of knowledge regarding the game as a whole," Rodriguez said. "I picture Wes Helms as a future successful manager."
> Left-hander Andrew Miller, once seen as the big return prize in the Miguel Cabrera trade with the Tigers, arrived in Pittsburgh Thursday sporting a curly mustache that would have made Doc Holliday proud.
Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said as long Miller pitches well he can keep it. Miller hasn't pitched well all season in the minors (he was 2-9 with a 5.35 ERA over 21 starts between Single A and Double A) and admitted Thursday even he was a little surprised the Marlins called him up to replace Taylor Tankersley in the bullpen.
"To be honest with you my results the last couple outings weren't great," Miller said. "But I was throwing the ball well. It's a pleasant surprise to say the least."
The Marlins have always loved Miller's talent. As Rodriguez pointed out Thursday, it's rare to find a left-hander who hits regularly hits between 95 and 97 miles per hour on the radar gun. But since making 14 starts for the Marlins last year (3-5, 4.84 ERA), Miller has been a complete disaster. The Marlins kept him in the minors hoping pitching coaches Wayne Rosenthal and John Duffy could straighten him out. But so far, he has yet to really blossom.
"It’s been a long year. It’s been a hard year," Miller said. "I think from where I was when the year started to how far I came was pretty significant. It’s not always going to be easy and straightforward. Between Rosey and John Duffy, I’ve made a lot of progress and really liked the way I’ve thrown the ball lately. I know there’s obviously room to grow."
Miller said he got so out of whack at the beginning of the year he "didn’t know which way was up and which way was down." Rodriguez said the Marlins just want to Miller throw his secondary pitches -- changeup and slider -- for strikes.
"It’s kind of the same things we’ve always talked about, straightening out the line, repeating the delivery, throwing more strikes and things like that," Miller said. "Somewhere along the line I developed a lot of bad habits that were pretty difficult to tear down and rebuild. By no means is it perfect now or will it ever be perfect, but it’s come a long ways and felt pretty good lately."You always want to have succcess and ultimately success is graded on wins and losses or for pitchers ERA and strikeouts to walks, all that stuff... the last three or four outings I felt as good as I have all year and I feel like I made progress in every one."
> Left-hander Sean West, scratched from his scheduled start Thursday and placed on the disabled list retroactive to August 15, said he'll have an MRI on his right knee Friday.
West said he felt "a sharp little pain" in his right knee while running poles on Tuesday. "I'm doubtful there is anything structurally wrong," West said. "There's probably just some fluid in there causing the inflammation."
West said he'll try to play catch on Friday when the Marlins return home to face the Astros and added "I'm already starting to feel better."
> Rodriguez said he gave shortstop Hanley Ramirez the day off Thursday because he can tell he's tired.