FORT MYERS, Fla. —The Red Sox are excited about the potential of lefthander Andrew Miller, who has four strikeouts without a walk in four innings this spring. But Terry Francona dropped a heavy hint earlier today that the 25-year-old would start the season with Triple A Pawtucket.
“He came to spring training with the idea that he’s in competition for a bullpen slot with the idea that Opening Day isn’t the cutoff for him,” Francona said.
Francona said the reason the Red Sox signed Miller to a minor-league contract was not to be “held hostage” to the idea of starting the season with him.
“We need to watch him pitch and see where it takes him,” the manager said. “He’s been terrific about it. He’s been really mature about this [being] long-term.”
Miller has looked good in spring training. But this is also a player who has struggled mightily in his career (a 5.84 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP). It’s probably wise to let him have success in the minors for a bit (assuming he can do that) before throwing him in with the sharks of the AL East.
My impression in talking to Theo Epstein about Miller is that the Red Sox look at this as a long-term project, not a way to find a bullpen lefty. If Miller can harness his ability, he could become a solid starter. Given how hard starters are to develop or obtain, that avenue needs to be explored first.