Miller callup to Red Sox 'a dream come true' after remarkable journey

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Miller callup to Red Sox 'a dream come true' after remarkable journey

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - For any player, reaching the big leagues is an accomplishment in its own right. For infielder Mike Miller, summoned by the Red Sox from Pawtucket Monday, the callup couldn't be more improbable.

Start with the fact that Miller, listed officially five-foot-nine, is, in reality, five-foot-six - tops. Add in the fact that he was 11th round pick as a senior from Cal Poly Tech and you begin to understand how much of a longshot Miller is.

Then, add in the fact that injuries conspired to have him miss almost all of 2013 and half of 2014, and Miller's journey is truly a remarkable one.

All of which made it all the more difficult for Miller to keep his emotions under wraps late Sunday night. Miller was riding a bus outside Rochester, N.Y. with the rest of the Pawtucket Red Sox when manager Kevin Boles, sitting a few rows ahead of him on the bus, sent Miller an email informing him that he was going to the big leagues.

But the email contained a caveat from Boles.

"He didn't want to make a big commotion of it on the bus,'' said Miller, "so he told me to keep it quiet and don't show a lot of emotion, but congratulations. It was hard because you've got all your friends on the bus and you want to talk to them about it and share your excitement. But at the same time, you respect the manager's wishes, but there were (corresponding) moves to make and he didn't want it getting out because someone else might not know what's going on.

"It was hard (keep quiet), but you do what you're told.''

Between making phone calls to family members and friends and the natural excitement he felt, Miller got virtually no sleep before a 4:30 a.m. trip to the airport. But sleep could wait on a night like that.

"It's a dream come true,'' said Miller. "I wasn't expecting it -- at all. So to get the opportunity to come up here and play at the highest level is a dream come true. I started my Red Sox career with Mookie Betts in Lowell, so it's cool to catch up to some of those guys and see them a few years later. I'm just really happy and excited to be here.''

Miller's numbers aren't eye-popping at the minor league level. He was .256 with seven doubles in 46 games, and he's not likely to stay with the team past Friday, when the Sox are expecting Brock Holt to return.

But the Sox needed another infielder to get back to a four-man bench, and Miller was the consensus choice. For however long his callup lasts, he'll enjoy it, especially considering what he's overcome.

"You're not a bonus baby,'' he said. "But at the same time, you just go out and compete. When you're on the field, you don't think anybody is better than you. It doesn't matter what round they were (selected) or whether they're a high school guy or (drafted as a) junior or senior. So when you put the cleats on, you play to the best of your ability and see where that takes you.''

The injuries in 2013 (torn quad) and 2014 (broken hammate bone) only fueled his desire.

"There were some tough moments, some frustration over not being able to play,'' he said. "Not being able to control things (was tough). But it also teaches you some things about patience and there's that appreciation that when you are healthy, make sure you go out and play hard every day. If you take the right mindset, you learn from it and get better.''

Miller can play all over the infield. He played shortstop in college, but has mostly played third and second in the minors.

"I've been acclimated to all three,'' said Miller. "I work hard with our instructors to understand all the nuances of all the positions, so I'm comfortable at any of them. Wherever I get the chance to play, I just want to help the team win that night.''

For however long it lasts, Miller will savor it.

"I couldn't ask for a better feeling,'' said Miller. "There are some odds against you -- senior, smaller guy, not a big-time college program. So I've had kind of fight my whole career to keep moving, keep moving. To get here is a really good feeling.''

 

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes, on the 10-day disabled list since late May with biceps tenderness, "felt good" but the pitcher had hoped his velocity would be a bit higher. ... LHP Glen Perkins, on the DL with a shoulder strain, is expected to resume throwing again Tuesday after a setback about a week ago.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez was out with a sore left knee after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the 10-day DL since June 20 with a left inner-ear infection, is slated to start a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said there's no planned date for his return. ... Moreland fouled a ball that bounced and hit near his right eye.

NICE START, KID

Red Sox 3B Tzu-Wei Lin singled to right in his first major-league at-bat and first career start.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan played third on his country's national teams in 2009 and 2010. He's the second Taiwanese-born player to make Boston's major-league roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was the other, in 2012.

RUNNING AROUND

Twins LF Eddie Rosario made three nice running, over-the-shoulder catches.

WELCOME ABOARD

Infielder Jhonny Peralta reported to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. Boston signed him to a minor-league deal after he was released by St. Louis earlier this month.

The plan is to alternate him at third and DH with Sandoval.

ROSTER MOVE

The Twins sent RHP Dillon Gee back to Triple-A to make room for Tuesday's starter LHP Hector Santiago.

UP NEXT

Twins: Santiago (4-6, 5.26 ERA) will be activated off the DL Tuesday. He's been sidelined since June 7 with a strained left shoulder.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.07) looks to snap a three-start winless stretch.