PAWTUCKET – There’s always excitement in the air whenever a big-name player ventures to the minor leagues for a rehab assignment. For Rich Sauveur, it will simply be another day at the office when John Lackey makes his first and only rehab appearance for the PawSox Tuesday night.
“He’s no different than any of my pitchers. I’ll talk to him between innings just like I would with anyone else,” said Sauveur, Pawtucket’s pitching coach. “If I see something, I’ll let him know. If he asks me questions, I’ll give him my opinion. I know Lackey from spring training, so it’s not going to be tough at all.”
Sauveur plans to touch base with Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young well before Lackey sets foot in the home clubhouse at McCoy Stadium.
Lackey last pitched for the Red Sox on May 11, and went on the disabled list five days later with a right elbow strain. He’s expected to work in the neighborhood of four innings/70 pitches.
“We’ll go over the plan and what I should be looking for,” said Sauveur regarding his impending chat with Young. “If there’s an injury I keep an eye on it during the course of the outing.”
Kevin Millwood has arrived at McCoy, a sure indicator that the 14-year veteran righthander is ready to pitch for the PawSox. PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler would neither confirm nor deny that Millwood would pitch Wednesday, though according to the media notes it’s listed as TBA for that night’s starter. Another indication that he will pitch at McCoy Wednesday is that Matt Fox, the scheduled starter for that night, has been pushed back to Thursday.
“Nothing,” was all that Beyeler offered on the subject.
The Red Sox signed the 36-year-old Millwood to a minor-league deal on May 19 after he opted out of his contract with the Yankees earlier this month.
“I felt good and threw the ball well,” said Millwood about his week-plus stint in Fort Myers. “I felt like I was able to get ready [to pitch in an actual game]. I’m (in Pawtucket) now, so we’ll see what happens.”
Millwood, who owns a lifetime 159-137 record, was even less forthcoming regarding his status. “I’m not positive yet, but I don’t think it will be too long,” he said.
Andrew Miller was still smiling one day after turning in seven scoreless innings. The control issues that have dogged him all season long were placed on the backburner, as the lanky lefthander issued just two walks while throwing 48 of his 79 pitches for strikes.
“He kept repeating his delivery,” noted a scout.
Standing at his locker, Miller shed some light on why he pitched with great effectiveness on Sunday night. A change to his pregame routine enabled Miller to have a better feel for his pitches early in the outing, which in turn allowed him to log a season-high in innings pitched.
“Right after I came out in my last start in Toledo, (Sauveur) and I were talking and I asked him, ‘Why do I feel so good in the fourth and fifth innings after throwing so many pitches that I’m kind of searching for it in the early innings?’’ Miller said. “We brainstormed different ideas on how we could prepare myself to go out there and start the game. What we came up was basically to start warming up earlier and simulate an inning as close to game speed as possible.”
For Miller, squeezing in a practice round prior to his actual warmup tosses was an instant hit. “When I got on the actual game mound, I felt like I had already been there, done that. I was able to make adjustments much sooner than I had in the past. ”
The key to finding something that works is to keep going with it. Rest assured Miller knows this.
“You don’t want to overdo it and go into a game overtired, which is something we’ll have to figure out,” said Miller, “but it worked well the other night and I’m going to stick with it for now.”