Andrew Miller, Red Sox Both Take Plenty of Positives From Lefty’s Debut

Andrew Miller, Red Sox Both Take Plenty of Positives From Lefty's Debut BOSTON — One pitch may have turned Andrew Miller's Red Sox debut from something special to something a bit more ordinary. At least that's what happened to the stats.

But for those who look beyond the numbers, it was a notable outing that could lead to something special.

"Really good, really encouraging," manager Terry Francona said of Miller's debut, which was largely spoiled by a three-run homer in the top of the sixth inning, the only runs the lefty allowed in 5 2/3 innings.

Boston produced a 10-run rally in the seventh inning and eventually ran away from San Diego, 14-5. That made the Miller outing somewhat of an afterthought to many in attendance.

For the tall left-hander, it was anything but.

"It was a lot of fun. I think any time you get to pitch in Fenway is going to be fun, and especially to go out there with a Red Sox uniform on is a blast," he said. "Unfortunately, the last inning kind of brought me down to reality a bit, but all in all it’s hard to beat that experience."

The fact that he has the experience under his belt by June 20 is remarkable in its own right.

Miller was considered somewhat of a long-term project that could be a factor in the bullpen this year and maybe in the rotation down the road. He was so good at Triple-A Pawtucket, and the rotation has been so unstable for the Red Sox, that making a start at Fenway happened sooner than some may have thought.

Not that anyone is worried about Miller being rushed up. He may have been when he was making his major league debut for Detroit less than a year after being drafted No. 6 overall in 2006. But the 26-year-old has matured, taken his lumps and is now prepared to harness his ability.

The Red Sox organization has aided in that process.

"Our front office did a real good job signing this kid, because he had other opportunities," Francona said. "We worked hard to get him. And then not only did we work hard to sign him, but there was a lot of communication, OK, what's the best way to get this kid ready to help us at the major league level.

"We talked in spring training about not having Opening Day be the finish line for him. He was mature enough to understand that. He went down there. We've got a guy that’s got a tremendous arm, likes to compete. Hopefully, it will be a big help for us."

Miller offered up glimpses of what that will look like. He struck out six Padres and was extremely effective with runners on, the three-run homer by Orlando Hudson being the exception.

Miller hit 96 on the gun and showcased changeups and curveballs that were, at times, dominant.

"His changeup has come a long way even since spring," catcher Jason Varitek said. "He's got some explosion on his fastball and he threw some really good breaking balls today."

The stuff is there. That's never been a question. So, too, is the mental makeup. With a frame like the one Miller possesses, it often comes down to maintaining control of those many moving parts. For his part, Miller feels that he has found that control and only needs regular turns in the majors to get to that next level.

"I think any experience you get is going to be helpful, whether it's rough times or good times," he said.

"I think every inning, every batter you face at this level, in particular, is going to help you in the long run. I'd like to think I’ve grown over the last few years and I'm looking to get out there and get on a roll."

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