Prospect to have surgery on finger

CLEVELAND -- Adam Miller, the top pitching prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization, will likely undergo career-threatening surgery on his right middle finger next week.

Indians head trainer Lonnie Soloff said Miller will meet with Dr. Thomas Graham in Baltimore on Monday to discuss surgical options.

"At this point, it seems like surgery is indicated," Soloff said. "He'll have that consult on Monday and there's a very good chance he'll undergo surgery on Tuesday."

Graham performed surgery on the finger to repair ligament and tendon damage last May. The Indians were encouraged when Miller, who can hit the high 90s on the radar gun, threw without pain in the Instructional League and in winter ball, but he felt discomfort when throwing early in spring training.

Miller didn't throw for several days, but the pain continued when he attempted to throw again. The Indians tried to adjust his motion in throwing sessions at the team's spring training complex in Arizona to relieve pressure on the finger, but that was unsuccessful.

"Adam played catch again Monday and experienced pain," Soloff said. "With an increase in intensity, the symptoms returned."

Soloff said Miller would be sidelined at least six to nine months.

"We make an educated assessment based on healing times of intrinsic hand tissue," Soloff said. "Adam is the one who reached the decision. It's something he knows he has to do to return to a high level of competition. He's given it a great deal of thought."

Soloff said the second operation could lead to further problems, which may include a third surgery.

"Just because the space is so limited in the finger with a procedure of this caliber, there's a high incidence of secondary surgery to limit or remove scar tissue, which would impede recovery of both range of motion and strength," Soloff said. "When you go in there a third time, you run the risk of further scar tissue developing. That's one of the reasons why it's such a challenge."

Miller, 24, was the 31st overall selection in the 2003 draft and quickly rose through the Indians minor league system as a starter. He was 15-6 with a 2.75 ERA at Double-A Akron in 2006. Miller appeared in only 19 games at Triple-A Buffalo in 2007 because of soreness in the finger and was limited to six games at Buffalo last season.

Following last year's surgery, the Indians hoped a switch to the bullpen would cut down on his workload and ease the pressure on his finger. Miller would have likely made the team as a reliever in spring training if he had stayed healthy.