|Transcript of Terry Francona on The Big Show: Andrew Miller ‘in our plans, that’s for sure’||06.15.11 at 4:03 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined The Big Show Wednesday to talk about baseball, hockey, Game 7s and his recent conversation with Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Francona called Julien before the Bruins’ Game 6 victory Monday night.
“Yeah I talked to him about the power play a little bit,” Francona joked. “Guys, I don’t even know what a line is.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. The hear the interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.
So is [not liking hockey] a Western Pennsylvania thing? How did you never grab on to the Penguins? What happened?
You know what, when I was growing up I never went to a Penguins game. They used to come down every once in a while. My dad ran an ice arena when he retired at the park and they’d come down every so often and work out. I thought that was pretty cool, but it just doesn’t interest me. I actually told [Julien] that. I said, “Hey, I like the way you do things, I love the way you handle yourself.” And from what everybody tells me, the media that are around him, they love him. I said, “I don’t get into it, but I just want to wish you luck.” I didn’t want to lie to him.
I get the excuse that you grew up in a baseball family, but you said your dad ran an ice rink?
Yeah. How about that? You ought to see me on skates, it’s pretty great.
Andrew Miller turned in a dominant outing for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, one day before the Red Sox must call him up to the majors or give him the right to opt out of his contract. He pitched 5 1/3 innings for the PawSox, allowing a run while striking out 10, walking one and lowering his ERA in Triple-A this year to 2.47.
Miller made clear that his goal remains to pitch in the major leagues. Regardless of whether he is summoned as a starter (the role in which he’s spent the full season, and in which he’s identified a routine that has yielded particularly strong results in his last four starts, in which he’s struck out 26 and walked three) or reliever, the veteran of parts of five big league seasons looks forward to competing again at the game’s highest level.
“I’m property of the Boston Red Sox. If they call me up, they can do whatever they want with me. I’ll happily do it, and I’ll give it everything I’ve got. I’ll start, I’ll relieve, I’ll play second base. It doesn’t matter,” he told reporters. “If there’s a spot in the big leagues, I want it. That’s what we all, that’s where everyone in this locker room wants to be. That’s what we’re working for I guess.”
If the Sox do not call up Miller on Wednesday, then he would find no shortage of suitors for his services if he opted out of his contract, which calls for him to make $1.2 million (prorated for the portion of the season that he spends in the majors) if promoted to the big leagues. He has shown a mid-90s fastball and nasty slider in the minors this year, and of late, he’s been throwing strikes with both.
Yet while the major leagues are, of course, Miller’s goal, the pitcher also underscored that he is not in a rush to move to another organization, emphasizing that he is more focused on his long-term career than on returning to the majors at any cost. After all, the left-hander turned down big league deals from other clubs during the offseason in favor of a minor league contract with the Sox that would allow him to develop without artificial constraints (in the case of a big league deal, the fact that Miller was out of options raised the possibility that an organization other than the one that signed him could claim him if he was exposed to waivers while being sent to the minors).
While he is eager for the opportunity to return to the majors, Miller — whose career prior to 2011 had steadily moved in the wrong direction, with a 15-26 record and 5.84 ERA in 79 big league games with the Marlins and Tigers — also values the progress that he has made in the Sox organization, and suggested that he’d like to remain with the franchise.
“The Red Sox in general in every aspect have given me every opportunity. They’ve been first class. I don’t have any complaints at all. Certainly, it’s a good place, good fit for me,” Miller told reporters. “Things are certainly going the right direction here. It would certainly be a shame not to keep it going. …
“Considering the year I had last year, the ups and downs I’ve had the last probably year and a half, for me, it’s been nice to go out and show that it’s still there and I’m showing here that I think I can be a good major league pitcher,” he added. “At this point, when I came in and signed with Boston, I knew that it was kind of a long-term project. I wasn’t going to short-sight anything. I think I’ve come back and I’ve started to establish that I’m on the way back. I’m looking to go to the major leagues and stay up for a long time. It doesn’t matter when it starts. It’s more the long term.”
Miller is scheduled to talk with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein on Wednesday about his future with the organization. While it is certainly possible that the Sox could decide to promote him to the majors — either to insert in the rotation as a starter or as a member of the bullpen — his statements also suggest that the discussion of the pitcher’s best long-term interests will leave the pitcher open-minded about the opt-out if the Sox do not elect to call him up immediately.
|Team sources: No decision on Miller until after Wednesday meeting||06.14.11 at 10:56 pm ET|
Multiple Red Sox sources said on Tuesday night that no decision has been made regarding the next step for left-hander Andrew Miller, with one suggesting instead that “everything is open” until the team and pitcher sit down to discuss his future with the organization on Wednesday.
Miller, who struck out 10 and walked one in 5 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, has an opt-out in his minor league contract if he is not called up by Wednesday. However, sources indicate that the Sox are unlikely to let the situation come to that, and that they plan on talking with the pitcher about how to continue what both sides have referred to as a “partnership” beyond the opt-out date — whether in the majors or minors.
A left-hander with a history of control troubles, Miller has been dominant while attacking the strike zone of late, striking out 26 and walking three hitters in his last 25 1/3 innings, spanning four starts. On the year, he now has a 2.47 ERA in 13 games for the PawSox.
While a report in the Boston Globe suggested that Miller will be called up and added to the rotation in the upcoming series against the Padres, the team sources said that the Sox had not yet made a decision about whether Miller will be called up, or if he is promoted to the majors, how his role might be defined. Sox GM Theo Epstein is slated to meet with Miller to discuss the pitcher’s path going forward on Wednesday.
“I know Theo plans to sit with him [Wednesday] and kind of talk about his status,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona explained before Tuesday’s game against the Rays. “He’s throwing the ball great. He’s somebody we’ve obviously watched since spring training with anticipation because of what he potentially can do but I do know Theo is going to sit and visit with him.
“There’s a lot to like about him,” added Francona. “He’s a good kid. He’s grounded. He went through a lot of stuff in the winter talking to him because I wanted him here so bad. I kind of spent some time talking to him. He’s just a likeable kid. I think he wants to succeed here. I think he likes it here.”
For more on the unusual decision that the Sox and Miller face with the pitcher, click here.
|Andrew Miller, Red Sox arrive at potential crossroads||at 2:21 pm ET|
It is time for The Decision.
The partnership between Andrew Miller and the Red Sox has been everything that both sides could have hoped for to date. When Miller decided to pass on major league deals this winter in favor of a minor league contract with the Sox, the two sides considered the arrangement one that was meant to be in the long-term best interests of both the player and club.
Miller would be able to work on developing mound consistency without the limitations of roster considerations, such as the prospect that he would need to be exposed to waivers and potentially change organizations. At 26, he was willing to work in the minors with one organization and one pitching coach to find the mechanics that would best allow him to harness his considerable gifts – a 6-foot-7 frame, a mid- to high-90s fastball, a slider that can make left-handed hitters weep – into results.
With Triple-A Pawtucket, Miller has done just that. He has not been the disappointing pitcher who was taken with the sixth pick of the 2006 draft and rushed to the majors en route to a 15-26 record and 5.84 ERA in 79 big league games. Instead, he has been dominating on the mound. He has a 2.54 ERA and 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents are hitting just .175 against him, and he’s permitted just one homer in just over 60 innings all season.
He has been particularly sharp in his last three starts, after he and PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur tweaked his routine to have him simulate an inning before the start of games. Miller, who had walked 32 batters in his first 40 1/3 innings this year, particularly his last three starts in which he’s walked just two batters and struck out 16 in 20 innings. For a pitcher whose chief limitation has been his lack of command, it’s been an eye-opening stretch. Read the rest of this entry »
|Peter Gammons on M&M: Jason Varitek ‘really believes’ in Alfredo Aceves||05.18.11 at 1:25 pm ET|
MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to offer his views on the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Gammons said that this month’s bad weather might turn into good news for the Red Sox in the long run.
“When they make this up in July as part of that day-night doubleheader on a Thursday night in July, theoretically, the Red Sox pitching staff should be in much better shape at that time,” Gammons said. “And the Orioles pitching staff should be pretty worn down. I think we saw, as [the Orioles] tried to use six relievers to get nine outs the other night, they don’t have a lot or reserves there after [Jeremy] Guthrie and the three kids. I think that’s a much better time for [the Red Sox] to play.”
With John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, Gammons was asked if there are any available arms in the minor leagues. “No, there really isn’t,” he said. “[Pitching coach] Curt Young said to me yesterday that they’re very hopeful that within a month, [Felix] Doubront will be ready. He got set back in spring training when he had the elbow problems. Then he recently had the groin. He got up to I think 4 2/3 innings, and had the groin pull. He’s out for a couple of weeks, so that sets him back.
“And even though Andrew Miller is starting to throw much better and, according to Curt, has really started to calm down his delivery, we know he’s got the stuff but he really needs to wait a couple of months. He needs to be able to repeat that delivery, get back to where he was 4-5 years ago. He is so intelligent and so hyper, if he came up here and it all sped up on him, it might set him back another half a year.
“So, I don’t think there’s anybody. [Kyle] Weiland is not ready yet. I had heard that there was a possibility that they would take a look at one or two of the veterans that are out there still looking for jobs. Like, sign Kevin Millwood, put him in Pawtucket and see what happens.”
Asked about Pedro Martinez, Gammons said that does not appear to be an option. “When I last saw Pedro at the end of March, I can tell you he was not thinking about pitching,” Gammons said. “It would be fun, but I don’t think possible. He really wasn’t throwing. He was talking about knocking coconuts out of trees, not throwing to a catcher.”
Alfredo Aceves is being moved from the bullpen to the rotation, and at least one Red Sox player is encouraged by what he’s seen so far. Said Gammons: “Jason Varitek was making a very passioned support speech to me about Aceves. He really believes. I started laughing at first, because it seems that Aceves shook off every pitch that Tek put down. But at the same time, he said that there’s a lot there. He’s really optimistic about him pitching well.
“You guys know, Jason doesn’t go out of his way — he is never a phony about pumping people up. But he really believes there’s a lot there. It will be interesting to see if the guy does do it for what they need him for — five, six starts, whatever the time frame. Maybe this is his chance to do well. I don’t know. Jason really believes it.”
|Why Andrew Miller will be starting in the minors||03.25.11 at 4:45 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — There were plenty of unknowns when left-hander Andrew Miller signed his minor league contract with the Red Sox in December. No one could say with certainty where the 25-year-old — a wildly talented pitcher whose career results have never matched his potential — would start the season. Nor could anyone say in which role — starter or reliever — his work would occur.
But one thing was clear. For both Miller and the Sox, the goal was not trying to get Miller to maximize his season-opening contributions. Instead, in both the contract that they signed and the choices they were making, the pitcher and team were committed to Miller’s long-term development, hoping to put the former first-rounder in a position where he is most likely to achieve sustainable success.
And so, earlier this week, the Sox talked with Miller about their plans for him to start the year. After he threw 7 2/3 innings in seven spring training games, forging a 10.57 ERA while striking out six, walking four and allowing 11 hits, the Sox told Miller that he will go to minor league camp to be stretched out. He will work as a starter in Triple-A Pawtucket to open the year.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Miller’s most likely big league role in 2011 will be as a starter. He could still be either a starter or reliever, depending on how his work in the minors goes. But for a pitcher who has endured constant mechanical tinkering over the years, it was agreed that the best course of action was to give him the stability of a five-day routine on the mound that will include a side session. The idea, said manager Terry Francona, is to let Miller get repetition with his delivery.
“We thought about a lot of different stuff — pitching him every three days,” said Francona. “I think he agreed [with the idea of being a starter], because he can not only pitch in a game but then he can have a side day. I think he was really open to that. He can always pitch in the bullpen. But he gets starters’ innings, he’s stretched out, and it’s good for him. The more reps he gets, the better.”
As a starter, Miller will focus on fastball command and he will also have more of an opportunity to work with his changeup. That said, Francona believes that Miller’s slider is good enough that, whether he starts or relieves, the changeup is of less significance for the 6-foot-7 lefty than than it might be for other pitchers.
“He needs to command his fastball and work on his changeup. I thought his breaking ball was good right from the get-go. He’s got a nice feel for it. Almost a little surprising with that length in his body. He just really is comfortable with that pitch,” said Francona. “He’s just got to work on location with the fastball and certainly work on the changeup, but if he throws his fastball and breaking ball, he’s going to be fine. … He doesn’t need that third pitch as much as most pitchers do.”
While Miller’s final spring training stats were less than eye-opening, at times, his stuff was. He flashed a high-octane fastball and that wipeout slider that certainly have plus potential if he can command them and repeat them. Much as it was when Miller arrived in camp with the Sox, the future offers plenty of possibilities, but without a clear-cut path forward.
“If he pitches like we hope, he can be anything he wants. There’s a lot to like there,” said Francona. “I think we’re fortunate enough when we talk to him that he’s mature enough to understand that Opening Day wasn’t the end-all, the finishing line. Sometimes you see someone with that much potential and you don’t want to lose him and then the season starts and he doesn’t get to pitch enough and things don’t go right. I think this has a chance to really work out well.”
|Daisuke Matsuzaka effective, efficient but Cards rout Sox||03.20.11 at 4:10 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Daisuke Matsuzaka was effective and efficient on Sunday but his two-out walk with none on in the 6th opened the door for a 10-run sixth as the Cardinals routed the Red Sox, 10-3, Sunday afternoon at City of Palms Park.
[Red Sox-Cardinals boxscore].
Matsuzaka allowed three hits and two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out four. He threw 79 pitches, 50 for strikes, in his longest outing of the spring. Matsuzaka, who is now 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA this spring, needed just 64 pitches to get through five innings.
“I thought he had good tempo, threw strikes,” manager Terry Francona said. “That’s two in a row now so he’s starting to get geared up. He probably could’ve gone a hitter or two more. I wanted to see Andrew face a lefty and it kind of fell apart from there.”
[Francona explains why he was happy with Matsuzaka's outing Sunday vs. the Cardinals.]
Matsuzaka was coming off a start last Tuesday in Lakeland against the Tigers in which he allowed just two hits over five shutout innings, walking one and striking out five.
“I thought the last outing he had pretty good life too,” Francona said. “Again, you’re getting to that point in spring training where they’re probably gotten through the dead-arm period and they’re starting to get built up now where we’re getting pretty close to the start of the season.”
After getting two quick outs in the sixth, Matsuzaka walked Albert Pujols and then surrendered a long run-scoring double to right-center by Matt Holliday.
Francona pulled Matsuzaka for lefty reliever Andrew Miller, who struggled badly. The former No. 1 pick of the Tigers in 2006 faced six batters and didn’t retire a batter, allowing four hits and six runs while walking two.
“He walked the first hitter and that’s kind of a reminder when coming out of the bullpen of how important it is to attack the strike zone,” Francona said of Miller. “He had an infield single and a bloop and it kind of fell apart from there.”
Scott Atchison came in and allowed a bases-loaded double to Pujols to make it, 9-0, before Holiday followed with another run-scoring double. The Cardinals had 11 consecutive batters reach in the sixth with two outs.
The Red Sox travel to Clearwater Monday as Jon Lester matches up against Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay.
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