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Sports

August 3, 2012

Red S ox reliever Miller is in control ... finally

Back in the groove

BOSTON — Andrew Miller knows what his former University of North Carolina teammate Daniel Bard is going through.

Bard, as we all know, couldn’t find the strike zone as a starter this year for Boston, averaging 6.1 walks per nine innings before being demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket to solve his command issues.

Miller has experienced even worse control issues during his career. The Boston left-handed reliever walked 10 batters and hit two others in 10.1 innings with Detroit as a 21-year-old rookie in 2006.

He averaged 7.2 walks per nine innings pitching while throwing 32.2 innings during 2010 for the Marlins. In 130 career appearances, including 66 starts, Miller has averaged 5.2 walks per nine innings.

“He probably wasn’t quite ready to pitch in the big leagues,” Detroit Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont admitted about Miller being called up in ‘06. “We tried to do it awfully quick and he probably wasn’t ready to handle it.

“His stuff was good — you could see that — but he was wild,” added Lamont, who interviewed for the Red Sox managerial position this past offseason. “But I think it was probably a push for him to pitch in the big leagues, and I think that was probably part of the problem. And obviously, now he’s doing a good job.”

This year has been a different story for Miller, now 27 years old, who was sixth overall pick in 2006 draft, being selected ahead of Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Bard.

Some people in baseball — not Miller himself — have blamed the lefty’s continued command issues from 2006-11 on Detroit rushing him through the system.

But this year he is finally overcoming his wildness. He is averaging only 2.4 walks per nine innings. He also has struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings, the best mark of his career, and has a 4.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio compared a 1.44 ratio for his career.

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