'Poised' Miller earns first win for Sox

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'Poised' Miller earns first win for Sox

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH When the Red Sox acquired Andrew Miller from Florida last offseason, this is what they were hoping they'd get . . . .eventually.

Miller pitched with a lot of poise, manager Terry Francona said of the left-hander's six-inning performance Sunday, which led the way to a 4-2 victory over the Pirates. We didnt make some plays behind him. We didnt finish some plays, but he had some poise and good stuff and got us far enough, our bullpen came in and did tremendous.

I thought it was really encouraging. I was really pleased.

Although he had baserunners in each of the first three innings, Miller, now 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA since his recall from Pawtucket, kept the Pirates off the scoreboard until the fourth.

He opened the fourth by hitting Neil Walker with a pitch. Matt Diaz then reached on an error by shortstop Marco Scutaro. After a flyout by Lyle Overbay, Walker scored on Ronny Cedenos sacrifice fly.

Miller led off the fifth by walking pitcher James McDonald, then giving up three consecutive hits, with McDonald scoring. But Garrett Jones was thrown out when he overran third. Walker struck out, looking at a slider, and Diaz flied out.

That was all the scoring Miller allowed.

It felt pretty good, Miller said. Kind of battled through a lot of innings. Managed to get by and they made some nice plays behind me. We'll take a win anytime we get it.

The fifth . . . fortunately Jones overran the bag, so that was a nice out to pick up. I think I was able to get soft contact when we wanted it and the guys made some great plays.

Miller is trying not to look too far ahead. A former No. 1 draft pick (sixth overall) by the Tigers in 2006, he has spent nearly as much time in the minor leagues as he has in the big leagues after making his major-league debut less than three weeks after signing.

"I'm taking it one start at a time and preparing for each one the same, he said. Kind of go out there and throw strikes and give us a chance to win games.

Miller worked with PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur, adjusting his pregame routine, as he prepared for his big-league starts.

"When I came up, I was confident the way I was throwing the ball in Triple-A and felt confident it would carry over here, he said. No reason to change anything, just fine
tune things and work between outings, but ultimately things are going in the right direction. Changed my pregame routine up a little bit and its helped me get the game started and helped me be aggressive. Feel settled in from the start.

At 6-feet-7 and lanky, Millers delivery has a lot of moving parts, which pitching coaches have tried to tinker with over the years. That has not been the case with the Sox, he has said, and that's allowed him to focus on his pitching and his pregame routine rather than his mechanics.

"I wish it was that simple, but so far the adjustments have worked and just try to keep it going, he said. It's been a good place for me and the work I've done has panned out so far. For the most part, that bullpen routine is the biggest change. Ultimately though, I just have to throw the ball over plate and make good pitches."

In his second start, he stopped a four-game losing streak, the Sox longest since a four-game slide May 29June 1 and their second longest of the season after starting out 0-6.

"Im just going out there to win every game, Miller said. "I'm going to do the same thing regardless of what happened the previous two, four, 10 games. Try to pitch as deep into the game and give us a chance to win."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.