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Red Sox Notebook

Miller will stay, join rotation next week

Kevin Youkilis connects for a three-run homer in the seventh off the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson. Kevin Youkilis connects for a three-run homer in the seventh off the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson. (Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 16, 2011

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Lefthander Andrew Miller officially will stay with the Red Sox, forgoing a clause in his minor league contract to declare free agency yesterday in return for a promise that he would join the rotation next week.

Miller is expected to start against the Padres at Fenway Park Monday. He and agent Mark Rodgers met with general manager Theo Epstein Tuesday night.

“He’s obviously a huge part of our organization and is going to stay that way,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “That’s kind of where we’re at. He’s not going anywhere. Whatever happens . . . if and when and where, we’ll make that announcement.

“I think as things unfold, it’ll make sense. We can’t get ahead of ourselves.’’

Miller, 26, is 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) for Pawtucket. But he has made a case for himself in recent weeks allowing five earned runs over his last 25 1/3 innings with three walks and 26 strikeouts.

Miller went 5 1/3 innings against Charlotte Tuesday, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts.

Miller’s split contract will pay him a prorated $1.3 million once he arrives in the majors. There is a roster bonus along with incentive clauses.

Over parts of five seasons with the Tigers and Marlins, Miller is 15-26 with a 5.84 ERA. The former first-round pick was obtained from the Marlins Nov. 12, was non-tendered Dec. 2, and then re-signed 14 days later.

According to a major league source, the Sox plan to keep Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Josh Beckett on five-day routines for the most part and mix Miller, John Lackey, and Tim Wakefield into the rotation.

Wakefield could prove the odd man out over time despite having gone 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA in five starts since joining the rotation May 22. Lackey is 4-5 with a 7.41 ERA in nine starts.

Appeal pending On June 7, MLB suspended Jonathan Papelbon for three games as punishment for bumping umpire Tony Randazzo during an argument three days prior. Papelbon immediately appealed.

Francona said the team has received no word when that appeal will be heard.

“Not yet. You’re kind of in the dark a little bit,’’ he said. “Obviously I’ve talked to Theo a little bit about it. We’re still waiting to figure out what to do.’’

The Sox have to decide whether to go through with the appeal or drop it and have Papelbon start serving his suspension immediately.

There is a chance Papelbon could have his sentence reduced by a game. But waiting for the appeal puts the timing in the hands of MLB.

“That’s basically it,’’ Francona said. “You try not to outsmart yourself.’’

Francona and Papelbon have talked about the situation. It is likely, if not probable, that Papelbon would drop the appeal if he appears in several games in a row and would need a rest.

Designated dilemma The Sox start a nine-game interleague road trip June 24. That means nine consecutive games without a designated hitter and nowhere for David Ortiz to play.

In previous seasons, the Sox have been able to use Ortiz at first base by either resting Kevin Youkilis or moving him to third base. But now with Youkilis playing third base and Adrian Gonzalez at first, there is no obvious solution.

Sitting Gonzalez, even for a few games, makes little sense.

“Gonzy’s the most productive hitter in the league,’’ Francona said.

The Sox have not played nine consecutive interleague road games since 2002.

“This is hard. This is unfair,’’ Francona said. “It’s going to be a tough one.’’

Gonzalez started one game in right field for Texas in 2005, part of a short-lived scheme to keep him and Mark Teixeira in the lineup.

Francona on board Count Francona as a supporter of the proposal to add teams to the playoffs and perhaps realign the divisions. “I love the idea of a more balanced schedule. I think any player, coach or manager probably does. Because you’re talking about fairness,’’ he said. “The more teams they want to add to the playoffs, I’m all for.’’ . . . Shortstop Jed Lowrie was back in the lineup last night after missing the last two games to rest a sore left shoulder. “We’re starting to move into strengthening it back up,’’ he said. “I’m not going to make any excuses. I’m just going to continue to work to make it better and know that I’m going to be where I should be.’’ . . . ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a big baseball fan, spent time before the game with Francona, Dustin Pedroia, and Carl Crawford. . . . Texas released catcher Michael Thomas, one of the three players it obtained from the Red Sox for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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