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Daniel Bard on former UNC teammate Andrew Miller: ‘All the tools are still there’

11.12.10 at 7:15 pm ET
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Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard got the text message from Andrew Miller — his former teammate at the University of North Carolina — just minutes after the trade that sent the left-handed Miller from the Marlins to the Red Sox on Friday night.

“I was obviously pretty excited about it,” Bard said from his home in Mississippi.

“I think he had been told at least a few days [earlier] that the Red Sox were pretty interested in him and had been asking around trying to get background information,” Bard said. “He didn’t think it was going to go through that fast, from what I understood. But he definitely sounded excited.”

Bard and Miller, who was dealt to the Sox from the Marlins for lefty reliever Dustin Richardson, both were first-round draft picks in the 2006 MLB June amateur draft. Miller went to the Detroit Tigers with the sixth overall selection, while Bard fell to the Red Sox at No. 28. Miller would be traded from Detroit to Florida on Dec. 4, 2007, serving as the centerpiece for a deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers. Other members of the Detroit organization going to the Marlins in the trade were Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz, Mike Rabelo and Cameron Maybin.

Miller pitched in just nine major league games with the Marlins in 2010, going 1-5 with an 8.54 ERA, making seven starts. The 6-foot-7 lefty made his major league debut the year he was drafted, making eight relief appearances for the Tigers. In ’07 he joined the Detroit starting rotation for 13 games, going 5-5 with a 5.63 ERA. He appeared in a career-high 29 big league games in ’08 with the Marlins (making 20 starts), totaling a 6-10 mark with a 5.87 ERA.

Bard, who said he has talked to Miller “about once a month” during the season (and still competes with his former collegiate teammate in a fantasy football league), believes the change of organizations will benefit the former Tar Heels ace.

“The Marlins seem to have a kind of hands-on approach in terms of adjusting guys’ deliveries. I think it works for some guys, and some guys don’t respond to it very well,” said Bard, who last saw Miller pitch when watching a Marlins’ game on TV in August. “Some guys you’ve got to ride with what got him there, whether it’s fundamentally sound or not. It’s obvious that something has worked for him their whole life. I think they just changed a lot of things and it kind of took away from the pitcher he was when he was drafted. I think it will be good, change of scenery, good organization. I think it will be a positive thing for him.

“He’s quite a bit different than his 2006, college version. It seems like it had changed gradually ever since then. Mine looks a lot different, too, so I’m not saying change is a bad thing. But it does look different. I don’t know if it’s a work in progress. I don’t talk to him too much about that stuff. Baseball is usually the last thing we talk about when we’re together.”

Bard, who was in the starting rotation with Miller during the duo’s stint at UNC, sees the move by the Red Sox as one that could pay big dividends considering the kind of successes the former National Collegiate Player of the Year experienced before hitting the major leagues.

“The stuff was too good. The projectability with his body was there. To me, it still is,” said Bard, who plans on seeing Miller in December when the two will attend a mutual friend’s wedding. “All the tools are still there. Nothing has changed. I’m sure he had some stumbles along the way he would like to get rid of, but he’s still only 25-years-old and on the cusp of being a really good major league pitcher.”

For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: andrew miller, Daniel Bard, dustin richardson, florida marlins
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