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September 22, 2013

Who came to spring training with biggest beard?

BOSTON — Most every member of the Red Sox has joined in the grow-a-beard fun at one point or another this season. Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and David Ross have the longest and most grotesque ones right now.

But who started the trend?

With photographic evidence, it’s clear reliever Andrew Miller, who began growing his facial hair last season, entered spring training with the biggest beard and shaggiest haircut.

“I think Jonny has had that one for a while,” Miller said when asked if he was the first. “I don’t know.”

Gomes was pretty hairy during spring training and Joel Hanrahan — who had season-ending Tommy John surgery in May — had a rather large goatee. But Miller’s facial hair back then took the cake.

Miller had season-ending surgery in July to repair ligament damage in his left foot. Before that, he was a dominating left-handed arm out of the Red Sox bullpen. He posted a 2.64 ERA in 30.2 innings.

“I’ve always had to shave,” Miller told The Eagle-Tribune last August when he began becoming noticeably hairy. “Last year, I was in Pawtucket and there are clean-shaven rules there. I’m a rule-follower so we don’t have to shave here so I wanted to grow out the beard and not shave every day.”

Miller continues to grow his beard because, well, because he can.

“I don’t like having to shave every day,” he said. “There have been rules in the places I’ve been in, in the past. I probably wasn’t able to grow much of a beard when I was in Detroit (at 21 and 22 years old). Honestly, it’s just easy maintenance for me.”

The reliever is enjoying the Red Sox playoff run even though he can’t pitch. The Red Sox clinched the American League East on Friday.

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