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Miller expects to start season 'without a problem'

Miller expects to start season 'without a problem'

Miller expects to start season 'without a problem'

BOSTON -- Andrew Miller, who was one of the most dominant lefty relievers in the game last season before badly injuring his left foot just before the All-Star break in Anaheim, has some good news for Red Sox fans.

"I'm good," said Miller earlier this week by phone. "I'm doing physical therapy three times a week. I'm running, I'm doing agility, I'm cutting. Everything has gone really well. I'm not really concerned about my foot right now."

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Though the Red Sox were able to win the World Series even with Miller missing the final three months of the regular season, their quest to repeat should be strengthened by the return of the lanky lefty.

In 37 games, Miller produced 48 strikeouts and held opponents to a .217 average over 30 2/3 innings.

He is 28, and after several years of trying to reach his promise, Miller has found his niche as a reliever.

"I felt like it was getting better and better over the last two years and I've actually been pretty consistent," Miller said. "I can still certainly get better, but I feel like I'm at a point in my career where things have been going in that direction and I'll just try to keep it going. I've been around some pretty interesting years with the Red Sox and for me personally, it's all been really good. I've enjoyed it and I feel like I've gotten better and gotten a chance to contribute to some pretty good teams and I just hope to keep it that way."

Assuming Craig Breslow comes close to duplicating the form he had in 2013 and Miller bounces back strong from his Lisfranc injury, the Red Sox could have one of the best 1-2 lefty setup punches around.

Though Miller wasn't able to realize his dream of pitching in the postseason, he stayed with the team every step of the way, even hobbling out to the field for introductions in a walking boot for the start of each playoff series.

"It was a blast to be a part of and it was fun to be around. At the same time, it was hard to only be able to watch at times," said Miller. "You wanted to contribute. Myself and [Andrew] Bailey were kind of in the same boat. We felt like there were times the bullpen stepped up and really did a great job when we went down. But we wished we could have helped those guys out and the team in general."

When it comes time to collect those World Series rings in April, Miller will be thrilled to accept his, even if he wasn't able to pitch in the late stages of the season.

"You don't have many opportunities to get to be around something like that, so I certainly enjoyed it and did my best to cheer guys on and stay out of the way and that kind of thing. It was, all and all, still a really good experience," Miller said.

The only playoff games Andrew Miller missed were the middle three World Series games in St. Louis, when his wife Katie delivered the couple their first child -- a boy named Max.

Miller has spent the winter soaking in fatherhood and getting himself ready for the coming season.

As for the injury that derailed him last year, Miller did his best not to let it get to him.

"You have to handle the punches that are thrown at you. It is what it is. There were no regrets," Miller said. "There was nothing I felt like I should have done differently or could have done differently to change the way things happened. It just happened. You have to roll with it and move on. I didn't feel like it was worth sitting around and sulking over. It wouldn't have done any good."

The way Miller looks at it, somebody else could suffer an ill-timed injury in 2014. And then Miller, his arm fresh from not pitching down the stretch of '13, can help pick up the slack, much like his teammates did for him.

"The bullpen is a volatile place to pitch," Miller said. "I've got to be ready to step in and help out in whatever role is available and pick up some slack if need be. It's one of those things -- it is what it is. I hope the positive is that my arm is fresh and I'm ready to go next year and make the best out of it."

All that's left for Miller between now and Spring Training is to complete his rehab and regain his feel for pitching.

"I've played catch. I certainly haven't gotten off a mound or anything yet," said Miller. "Like I said, I don't think my throwing program is going to be that affected by the foot stuff. I should be ready. I shouldn't be behind [in Spring Training]. And if at all, it will be very minimal. I'll start the season without a problem."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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