Results tagged ‘ Andrew Miller ’

Wrapup from first Grapefruit League game

The Red Sox had another first today, facing Major League competition for the first time. The opponent? The Minnesota Twins.

Prospect dazzles: The most noteworthy development was the lasers that purred out of Anthony Ranaudo’s right hand. The top prospect mowed down all six Twins hitters he faced, striking out four of them.

Ranaudo doesn’t come across as cocky. But he does have the type of confidence that is usually necessary to succeed at the Major League level.

“I don’t really want to say I was surprised, but maybe a little surprised because some of them were up in the zone, even some early in the count. Obviously I’ve got to do a better job of bringing the ball down, but I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Ranaudo said. “That’s what I’m going for every time I go out there — either swing and misses or weak contact or getting outs. I don’t like to use the word surprised, but I guess maybe in that context, some of them were up in the zone, but it felt good to get those swing-and-misses, for sure.”

Miller rusty: Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Andrew Miller looked rusty pitching in a game for the first time since breaking his left foot on July 6 of last season. The lanky lefty walked three of the five batters he faced.

“It takes him some time to time up that delivery,” said manager John Farrell. “Six-foot-eight, there’s a lot of moving parts there. It’s good for us to see him on the mound after coming off last early July because of the torn ligament in the foot. Spring Training is here to get him online.”

Offense quiet: Aside from Mike Napoli, the Red Sox didn’t have much to show in the way of offense. The cleanup man went 2-for-2. The other regulars who played, Jonny Gomes, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks, were all hitless. Farrell could only laugh when WBZ radio reporter Jonny Miller jokingly asked him if he was worried about the offense.

Saturday’s info: A.J. Pierzynski will play his first game in a Boston uniform on Saturday against his original former team, the Minnesota Twins. Daniel Nava, slowed by a neck strain, will play his first game this spring. And Grady Sizemore will play for the second time in three days as he continues his comeback attempt.

Game 1 Grapefruit League: Red Sox 8, Twins 3

FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the first time since that infamous night of Sept. 28, 2011, the Red Sox played a game against a Major League team. This was a mere Grapefruit League contest against the Twins, but still a necessary step in the ramp-up toward the real Opening Day.

The best part of the day for fans might have been the pre-game ceremony, when a star-studded quartet of Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant and Dwight Evans strode on to the field.

What went right: Andrew Miller was dominant, striking out three batters over two shutout innings. Lars Anderson improved his trade value by walloping a grand slam. At a time where Anderson might be coming into his own as a player, the Red Sox simply have no room for him on the team, provided everyone else stays healthy. The same can’t be said for Miller. Everyone is always looking for a lefty. The way Boston’s roster is constituted, Miller might be more valuable out of the bullpen. He has done a lot of work on his delivery this spring.

What went wrong: The Red Sox gave up three stolen bases – two when Josh Beckett was pitching and one off of Andrew Miller. In fairness, the Sox did throw out a couple as well, but controlling the running game has been a point of emphasis for Valentine this spring. Valentine seemed slightly annoyed that Beckett pretty much tuned out the running game for part of his start.

What they said: “Oh God. Adrian who?,” quipped Valentine on Lars Anderson hitting a grand slam.

What they said, Part 2: “I don’t think he could hit the ball better than that. It was a low breaking ball, it was too far to be a souvenir. Probably broke something when it landed in the parking lot.” – Valentine on Anderson.

What’s next: The Sox play a night game at Hammond Stadium against the Twins on Monday. Clay Buchholz makes his first start since being shut down with back woes last June.

Injury update: Crawford will get a check-up on Monday to see how his surgically repaired left wrist is progressing … Daniel Bard has been dealing with a minor back ailment, but should make his scheduled start on Tuesday … Closer Andrew Bailey is improving from the lat strain he suffered early in camp and should pitch in his first Grapefruit League game soon.

Taking it slow with Miller

Andrew Miller was dominant in his first two spring outings but struggled quite a bit in his third one. That doesn’t change anything about how Red Sox are evaluating him.

If he makes the team, that’s great. If not, the club is invested in him for the long haul.

The lanky lefty offers big potential as both a starter or a reliever. Obviously the latter job would get him to the Red Sox faster.

“Well, 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,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “That’s part of the reason we wanted to get him off the roster and then sign him back so we weren’t held hostage by somebody that looks really good but maybe needs a few more weeks or a month, so we need to watch him pitch and see where it takes him. He’s been terrific about it. He’s been really mature about, ‘hey, this is long term’. That’s part of the reason we did it the way we did it.”

How will Pap fit in?

In light of the fact that Bobby Jenks will sign with the Red Sox, assuming he passes his physical, it’s fair to wonder how this move will impact Jonathan Papelbon, Boston’s closer of the last five seasons.

After being an All-Star for his first four seasons, Papelbon had a downturn in 2010. His 3.90 ERA was more than a run and a half higher than his previous high as a closer — 2.34 in 2008. The eight blown saves also represented a career high, topping his six from 2006. The 28 walks were a career high, as was the 3.76 walks per nine innings.

Then there were the other signs that he hasn’t slipped that much. For instance, his 10.21 strikeouts per nine inning ratio was his best since 2007, when he had a dominant 12.96. The opposing batting average was also very respectable, at .226. The velocity was also sustained for the most part, his fastball typically coming in at 95-96 as it has for much of his career.

Papelbon is a free agent after the season, and with Jenks now on board for two years, the Red Sox have options. Do you trade Papelbon, who is on the hook for nearly $11 million in 2011? I think Papelbon will end up staying because his trade value is low at this point, given his performance last year combined with his salary.

So do you start Papelbon as the closer, but have Daniel Bard or Jenks available to step in if it looks like a 2010 repeat? It’s hard to imagine Papelbon — given his strong personality — suddenly being reduced to setup man.

But there is bound to be an odd dynamic when he gets to Fort Myers. After all, it is well-documented that the Sox made a run at Mariano Rivera even before making the move for Jenks.

Once the Jenks signing becomes official, it will be interesting to hear what Theo Epstein will have to say regarding Papelbon’s role going forward. Of course, it needs to be noted that Jenks is also coming off the worst year of his career. Will one of these two closers bounce back? Will both of them? WIll neither?

Meanwhile, if the pieces fit together right, Papelbon-Jenks-Bard could be a filty 1-2-3 combo in the back end of the ‘pen. Epstein has also acquired Matt Albers, a groundball specialist who seems like more of a sixth or seventh inning guy. And lefties Rich Hill and Andrew Miller might have a shot to be a lefty in the bullpen, if Epstein doesn’t acquire one from outside the organization.Felix Doubront figures to be in the mix, too, perhaps even as the primary lefty.

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