FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Andrew Miller finished throwing in the bullpen on Thursday morning, catcher Dan Butler sprang from his crouch and met the pitcher halfway to the mound.
“That was good,” Butler said. “Real good.”
Miller had a smile showing through his bushy beard as he headed back to the clubhouse. The 28-year-old lefthander is thrilled to be back on the mound after missing the second half of last season with a broken bone in his left foot.
Miller was injured when he came off the mound to back up a play on July 6 at Anaheim. He underwent surgery nine days later and watched the rest of the season with an unwieldy plastic boot on his foot.
Every time the Red Sox celebrated on the field — and there were plenty of those — Miller would gamely hobble out of the dugout to join in. It was hard for him to be a spectator as his team soared to a World Series championship.
“I didn’t have much choice. But it was tough not to be able to compete,” Miller said. “But I feel great now. Everything is fine.”
Miller arrived here on Monday and has no restrictions on throwing. He’s also doing agility drills and feels no pain in his foot. The one hurdle left will be fielding drills.
Miller was enjoying the best season of his career prior to the injury. In 37 appearances, he struck out 48 over 30.2 innings, walked 17, and allowed only 25 hits. Miller was unexpectedly more effective against righthanded batters than lefthanders but established himself as a viable late-inning reliever.
The only other concern for Miller at this point is his salary for the coming season. He is arbitration eligible and filed at $2.15 million. The Red Sox countered with an offer of $1.55 million.
Miller said his arbitration hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18. But he expects a resolution before then.
“Compared to most of the others, we’re not that far apart,” he said.