With Andrew Miller holding a June 15 outclause in his deal, it’s a given that the Red Sox are about to call up the former first-round pick of the Tigers. His ERA is down to 2.54 at Triple-A Pawtucket, and in his last three starts, he’s allowed a total of four runs and posted a 16/2 K/BB ratio in 20 innings.
What isn’t yet known is how the Red Sox intend to employ Miller. Apart from an eight-appearance stint in the pen during his pro debut in A-ball in 2006, Miller hasn’t worked as a reliever. He’s limiting left-handers to a .111 average in Triple-A this year, so maybe he could be useful as a matchup reliever late in games. However, that’s far from a given. Miller has a long history of control issues, and relievers who struggle to throw strikes are hard to trust late in games.
As much progress as Miller has made recently, the right move now is to stick him in the rotation. It’s not an easy call, since it’d mean bumping elder statesman Tim Wakefield back to the pen yet again. But Miller still has an incredibly high ceiling, and it’s worth seeing if he’s finally ready to pitch up to his potential. He’s earned the opportunity while allowing just one homer in 60 1/3 innings for Pawtucket. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if he’s the choice to start when the Red Sox face the Brewers on Sunday.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.