It was hard not to notice the tall lefthander in shorts and a t-shirt throwing at Boston College today. Pitching coach Curt Young was standing a few feet away, offering occasional comments and corrections.
It turned out to be Andrew Miller, who’s every bit of the 6 feet 7 inches he’s listed as. Miller is not participating in the Red Sox rookie development program, but the fact that he was in Boston throwing on Jan. 19 speaks to how engaged the Sox are in his progress.
“I know he’s very excited to be in the organization,” Young said. “He’s very interesting. You have a guy with that much talent. He can really help us.”
Miller, who turns 26 in March, already has spent parts of five seasons in the majors. The former sixth overall pick has lacked consistency and picked up some mechanical flaws that took some life out of his fastball.
“He’s been through a few bumps. The opportunity to come up with the Tigers as early as he did, sometimes you wonder whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Young said. “That’s the path he took and he’s here now.”
Young said Miller is not a total reclamation project. It’s more refining his delivery and mindset.
“Every pitcher has to do the fundamental things right. Those are the things I talked to him a little about. As we see him throw, those things have to be working in the right direction for him to throw the ball effectively,” Young said. “Guys get to certain ages and their mechanics are created. It’s a matter of getting him consistent and working with three pitches. We’re all very eager to see him this spring.”
Miller is on a minor league deal. The plan seems to be to work him as a starter in spring training and have him at least start the season with Pawtucket. If he progresses as hoped, the Sox could use him a reliever when needed.
Miller is out of options, so once he is added to the 25-man roster, the Sox have to be sure he will stay there.
The Sox could have some interesting depth in Pawtucket along with Miller. Junichi Tazawa, who had Tommy John surgery last March, is working out in Fort Myers and could get into some games this spring. If Felix Doubront is not in the major league bullpen, he’ll start in Pawtucket, too.
A few other notes from today:
• Farm director Mike Hazen said there is no timetable for when Ryan Westmoreland could get into a game. He’s down in the Fort working out and is proceeding at a pace Hazen called “inspiring” after his brain surgery.
• It sounds like Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway could start the season with Portland. They never finished off that level last season. Iglesias had only 221 ABs there, Lavarnway 158. Iglesias has a chance to be at Triple A, but Lavarnway is a sure bet to return to the Eastern League, at least for a while.
• Darnell McDonald spoke to the rookies yesterday and Hazen said he was terrific. It’s amazing how fully McDonald has integrated himself into the fabric of the organization in one season.
Think about it for a second. This is a career minor leaguer nobody knew before he arrived in camp last season. He ended up playing in 117 games, and since the season ended he has gone to the Dominican to spend time with David Ortiz, worked out with Dustin Pedroia in Arizona, and come back to Boston to speak to young players.
McDonald has to play well this spring to make the team. But the Sox clearly think a lot of him.
• Juan Carlos Linares, the 26-year-old Cuban outfielder, is a fireplug-looking guy who can really hit. Hazen said the coming season for him will be about adapting to the conditioning program and finding a comfortable routine. He played in only 17 games last year.
• Bobby Jenks is a big boy. He did not speak to reporters but was there throwing in a Chicago Bears t-shirt.
• Ryan Kalish, who is in the area for a series of banquets and other events, has been working out at BC all week. Globe colleague Mike Vega had a chance to speak to him.
“This whole week just came in to hang out and we all still have to get our workouts in, so I
thought I’d come out and hang out with the guys,” he said. “All these guys are my friends and we’ve played together and we will still play together, but it’s just good to be around everybody.”
His message to the prospects?
“Just to work hard, have fun and don’t leave any regrets. This opportunity is once in a lifetime. Regardless of whether you play 15-20 years in the big leagues, or if you play five years, the experiences, the people I have met, it is hard to replace that,” he said.