ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A starter for most of his career, Andrew Miller has excelled exclusively out of the bullpen this year.
The lefty is 3-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 49 appearances, has stranded 37 of 42 inherited runners and has owned left-handed hitters, who are batting .134 (11-for-82) against him.
A first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers, Miller suffered a hamstring injury and experienced elbow tightness this spring and began the season with Triple-A Pawtucket on a rehab stint.
Miller has been an integral part of the Red Sox bullpen since his return in May.
“I think he was kind of forced into his situation because of the arm situation late in the spring,” Valentine said. “There wasn’t really any genius in figuring it out. I don’t think he had enough innings in spring training to start the professional season with length, and we wanted to shorten him up. But he could be very proud of his development.”
Miller has 66 starts on his big-league résumé, including the 17 he made last year for the Red Sox, who acquired him in a trade that sent Dustin Richardson to the Marlins.
“I think he can be a dominating force in the bullpen,” Valentine said. “I’m not sure how that can translate as a starter.”
Valentine said Miller, 27, is still developing.
“He’s working on a two-seam change-up to right-handers that I think will put him over the edge next year,” the manager said. “That will put him into another category.”
Valentine attributed some of Miller’s success to Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler and Beyeler’s pitching coach, Rich Sauveur.
“I thought Rich and Arnie rehabilitated people extremely well,” he said, “using them in game situations well, not sacrificing wins, during the whole season.”
A former Triple-A manager himself, Valentine said the quality of the job relies mostly on the attitude of the players.
“What you just have to hope for is the guys who come down or who are waiting to come up are good guys,” he said. “If they’re not good guys and they’re (complaining) and moaning about their personal situation, it becomes a long Triple-A season. We were fortunate to have a lot of good guys from what I gather, and I knew some of them, and they are good guys.”