Red Sox

'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

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

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Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.

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“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”

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