Millwood bides his time in Pawtucket

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Millwood bides his time in Pawtucket

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Follow @dannypicard
PAWTUCKET Its been a while since Kevin Millwood has registered a pitch in the mid-90s.

The 36-year-old isnt battling in the minor leagues because hes stubborn. He knows he doesnt have the same stuff he used to have. But like most veteran pitchers who want a job in the big leagues, hes found a way to adjust.

You hear it all the time. Guys learn how to pitch. Not that they couldnt before, but sometimes velocity can be a young pitchers best friend.

Eventually, that velocity declines, and instead of never talking to your best friend ever again, find a way to work things out.

Thats what Millwood believes hes done while in Triple-A with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

In six starts with the PawSox this season, Millwood is 3-0 with a 4.22 ERA in 32 innings. After a tough debut on June 1, the veteran right-hander rattled off three straight wins while allowing only one run in each of those three starts. He followed that up with no decision in a six-inning, two-run, seven-strikeout performance on June 23.

His latest outing wasnt very good, allowing six runs on nine hits in just four innings Tuesday. Still, Millwood wasnt very concerned a few days later.

I feel like Ive just gotten better, every time out, said Millwood. The last game, I kind of threw that one away. But other than that, I feel like Ive thrown the ball well. Everythings kind of gotten better every time.

I feel like Im back to a point now, where I feel like I can get guys out. No matter this level or the next level, I feel confident that I can get guys out anyway.

Thats why Millwood has refused to exercise his June 20 opt-out, and will remain with Triple-A Pawtucket for at least a little while longer, in the hopes that hell get the call-up to Boston this season.

I felt like I was throwing the ball well, said Millwood, when asked what went into his decision to remain with the organization. It felt like I was getting better each time out. And I enjoy it here. I feel like there could be some opportunity here in the future. If not, they made it clear that, if another team wanted me in the big leagues, then it wouldnt be a big issue.

It just seemed like a good situation to just stay here and keep pitching. Best-case scenario, I get an opportunity here. If not, possibly get an opportunity elsewhere.

My biggest thing is, this is a place that I enjoy, added Millwood. I like the organization a lot. Hopefully it works out here.

Millwood was standing in front of his locker in Pawtucket when he kept referring to that next opportunity as here. Clearly, here means Boston, a place that, given Clay Buchholz back injury, and Daisuke Matsuzakas season-ending elbow surgery, could have room for Millwoods veteran presence in the rotation at some point this season.

If Millwood does eventually get that call-up, PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler, believes his experience on the mound will be his biggest asset to Boston.

He knows how to get guys out, Arnie Beyeler. His stuffs not what it used to be, but he still knows how to get guys out. He commands the baseball. He still has quality stuff. Hes long in years a little bit, and his stuffs dwindled, but his experience, you cant teach that.

He knows how to pitch, and hes a great guy. He has great work ethic and comes out with everything hes got.

Millwood started the season in the New York Yankees organization, but opted out after the Yankees decided not to add him to their big-league roster by May 1. It was a similar type of option that the Red Sox had in place with Millwood.

But this time, Millwood envisions an eventual spot on Boston's pitching staff.

I enjoyed my time in Yankees minor-league system, said Millwood. It was just, I didnt think that situation was at a point where I think they were pretty well set where they were for a while. I didnt feel like there was much opportunity there.

The opportunity that Millwood believes he may eventually have in Boston, remains to be seen. But if it doesnt end up working out with the Red Sox, Millwood and the organization have an understanding that he can always go somewhere else if another team needs his services.

Still, he seems more than willing to wait it out in Pawtucket.

Well see what happens when it comes to that, said Millwood. If another big league team wanted me, I dont think that would be an issue. Thats the great thing about being here right now. I can pitch here, with an opportunity to go into Boston at some point, or go anywhere else at some point.

For Millwood, its a win-win. But by the sounds of it, hed rather win in Boston.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Buchholz may have earned a spot in the postseason rotation, and with the 2017 Red Sox

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Buchholz may have earned a spot in the postseason rotation, and with the 2017 Red Sox

NEW YORK -- Clay Buchhlz's start Wednesday night didn't result in a win for him, or even, as it turned out, for his team. But that didn't detract from the brilliant effort he turned in -- six shutout innings, one hit allowed -- on the night that the Red Sox almost unwittingly clinched the division title.

”It was good to go out (and pitch well) in this place," said Buchholz Thursday, "because I haven't ever pitched well here. So it was gratifying to throw well against a club that, historically, I haven't thrown well against."

It's widely assumed that Buchholz will be the team's fourth starter in the post-season and as the playoffs approach, Buchholz is throwing the ball better than he has all season.

"Physically, I feel good," said Buchholz. "It's been an up-and-down year for me individually. You have to learn from the time when you're not doing your job, and sometimes, you have to take a step back. Moving to the bullpen wasn't exactly what I had mapped out in my head for me to do this year, but overall, it helped me out to take a deep breath and work on stuff."

MORE BUCHHOLZ: McAdam: Buchholz now limiting, rather than fueling, big innings

It was surprising that Buchholz was lifted after just 89 pitches, but John Farrell has appeared to be reluctant to have Buchholz go much beyond that since his return to the rotation in August.

"At that moment, obviously I wanted to go back out (for more)," said Buchholz. "But the way our bullpen's thrown (of late), I'd much rather give whoever comes in a clean inning rather than giving up a couple of hits in the seventh and have someone come in the game with runners on and making their job harder.

"As far as the pitch count goes, that's why John's the manager -- he has the reins on whether I go back out or not go back out, or how many pitches I'm going to throw. But I feel good. I could have gone out and thrown as many pitches as they wanted me to."

Having endured an up-and-down season, Buchholz has a renewed appreciation for the upcoming post-season.

"There was a bumpy road for a while," Buchholz said. "There were moments a little tougher than others, but this is our job and regardless of what position you put yourself in, you still have to go out and do your job. But knowing where we are now, I think this team's built right to go deep in the playoffs."

SOME STILL AREN'T BUCHHOLZ BELIEVERS: Bertrand: Even with good start, I can't trust Clay Buchholz

Buchholz doesn't have a guaranteed contract for next year, but the expectation is the Red Sox will pick up his option worth $13.5 million.

"I understand the business side of it," he said. "That's part of the game. But if I'm healthy and throwing the ball well, I feel like I'm going to have a job somewhere. This is the only place I've ever been and I'd love for it to be here.

"That's to be decided, I guess. I'm sure we'll talk about it after all this is over and done with. But I'm going to try to have as much fun while I'm here and I hope I'm back here next year."

Ortiz to play rest of regular season for Sox with guaranteed rest before playoffs

Ortiz to play rest of regular season for Sox with guaranteed rest before playoffs

NEW YORK -- Now that the division title has been wrapped up, the Red Sox turn their attention to getting ready for the post-season -- but not at the expense of trying to win as many games as possible.

Part of the planning for the Sox involves how much to play David Ortiz, who is retiring when the Red Sox are through in the post-season.

On Thursday night, his final road game and last appearance at Yankee Stadium, the Sox planned to have Ortiz get at least two at-bats in recognition of the fans in New York who wanted to see him one more time.

As for the last series at Fenway, it will be business as usual with Ortiz playing all three.

"We don't foresee any pullback in terms of his number of at-bats," said Farrell of the weekend series with Toronto. "It's a weekend of celebration well-deserved and we'll have time to recover."

Farrell noted that under the current playoff format, teams which win their division get three full days off after the final regular season games. That helps in preparation.

"The importance of winning and maintaining our daily approach is priority No. 1," said Farrell. "How that might affect how deep a starter goes in the upcoming games might be looked at a little more closely. Still, we feel it's imperative to secure as much home field as we can."

On Thursday night, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon were all given the night off. Others will get the same opportunity over the weekend.