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The winding road of Andrew Miller

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 8, 2011 07:32 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox traded Dustin Richardson to Florida for Andrew Miller on Nov. 12.

The Red Sox elected not to offer Miller a major-league contract on Dec. 3, making him a free agent.

The Red Sox signed Miller to a minor-league deal on Dec. 16.

Huh?

“It surprised me because they gave up a player to get me then they let me go,” Miller said earlier today. “But there was no animosity, none at all.”

Before they let him go, the Red Sox explained to Miller what they were thinking. The 25-year-old lefty was in need of a career intervention after posting an 8.54 earned run average in nine appearances for the Florida Marlins. His work in the minor leagues — a 5.35 ERA in 21 starts — was unimpressive as well.

A former first-round pick (No. 6 overall in 2006), Miller was quickly sliding into anonymity. But he is out of minor league options, meaning he would have to be exposed to waivers if taken off the 40-man roster.

The Red Sox wanted to sign Miller to a minor-league deal, giving him the opportunity to stay with the organization if he did not make the team out of spring training. That way, any progress made would not be interrupted by again changing teams.

Other teams tried to tempt Miller and he well could have landed a major-league deal. But in the end, he decided to take a step back in the interest of taking two steps forward.

“It was good for everybody because it gave me an opportunity to see what other options there were. But at the same time, I knew I had a good thing [with the Red Sox] and a great opportunity,” he said. “Everything I had heard about the organization was positive. When it came down to weighing all the factors, it was an easy decision.”

Miller consulted with Daniel Bard, his former teammate at North Carolina and a good friend ("I was at his wedding and he was at mine.") about his decision.

"I asked him about the organization and how they treat their players," Miller said. "I liked what I heard."

Now it's up to Miller. He arrived here early and was on the field today, throwing and getting in some conditioning work. He seems determined to regain his place in baseball and get his career back on track. He has struggled, but he's still a tall lefty who throws in the mid 90s.

Indications are the Red Sox look at him as a potential starter. If he makes the majors this season, it could be as a reliever, however.

"I don’t care how I get there. I still think I can be a major league starter. Whether that involves me going to the bullpen for a little while, or involves me starting in Triple A, whatever, I’m happy to put in the hours and make it work." he said.

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