By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. The Red Sox made another round of roster moves Friday.
Left-handers Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, and Randy Williams and right-hander Brandon Duckworth were assigned to minor-league camp. Right-handers Scott Atchison and Michael Bowden and outfielder Ryan Kalish were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Its a disappointing day for these guys, manager Terry Francona said. That doesnt mean we dont like what theyve done. The fact that the pitchers are all bunched together says a lot about how they competed.
Bowden and Atchison have options, which factored into the decision. Atchison appeared in seven Grapefruit League games, spanning 8 13 innings, posting a 6.48 ERA. Bowden was 1-0, 4.35, in 10 13 innings over 8 games.
Last season, after three roundtrips between Boston and Pawtucket early in the season, Atchison appeared in 43 games for the Sox, going 2-3, 4.50, providing stability to a bullpen that was mostly inconsistent.
Hard, Francona said of giving Atchison the news. And that was the first thing I told him: You know what, I dont want to tell you something just to get you out of my office. Its hard. He may feel its unfair. I think its not unfair to the organization. We had good competition, and if its close, which it is and the guys got an option, thats kind of the way it is.
"So rather than snow him, we just told him he'd been sent down. There were some days where I thought he might have got outpitched. But it doesnt just come down to that. Saying that, we dont dislike him. We like him as much today as we did, if not more. Its just hes going to start out in Triple-A.
Left-hander Andrew Miller, who posted a 10.57 ERA (mostly due to one difficult outing last Sunday against the Cardinals, when he faced six batters without recording an out, and all six scoring), will pitch in Pawtuckets rotation.
We actually talked to Andrew the other day, Francona said. We told him we made up our mind but we had an inning for him Thursday in Jupiter against the Marlins . . . But we told him he was going to start in Triple A, and he came back to us and goes, You know what, I want to get going. So he instead of pitching against the Marlins, he pitched today in a minor-league game and hes going to start getting extended a little bit . . . I think that was his concern, was he wasnt stretched out enough to start. So he wants to get the reps. So hell begin that.
Hill, who will continue to refine his new sidearm delivery, will come out of the bullpen to face left-handed hitters in Pawtucket.
Obviously his role is to come in and get that first lefty he faces and then to stay in the game, Francona said. Hes not going to just throw to one hitter, but obviously to handle left-handers.
I think he needs to stay with the sidearm delivery. I think he would -- I dont know if owned ups the right word -- but its still a little bit of a work in progress, which I think would be hard not to be. But I think there is enough there to really like . . . When youre in a situation like that, that first hitter he faces, a lot of times the games on the line. Just needs some repetition, some consistency.
"But theres a lot to like there. Thursday he hit 92 on the gun at times. Thats plenty, especially pitching sidearm.
Despite the move, Duckworth will start Sunday for the Red Sox in Sarasota against the Orioles, throwing two innings. He will be part of Pawtuckets rotation.
The moves reduce the number of players in major league camp to 33.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen