A Different Gameplan For Miller, On Field and Off

CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Let’s try this again.

Cleveland Indians All-Star reliever Andrew Miller has been activated from the 10-day disabled list. He has been on the DL since August 22nd for his second bout with the same right patellar tendonitis injury he has suffered this season.

The plan for the league’s best reliever will be different this time around, according to Manager Terry Francona, who said Miller will pitch less than a full inning in his first game back on Thursday.

“Unlike last time when some dumb*** manager brought him in with the bases loaded, we’re going to try to work him in,” Francona joked. “It’s going to be, depending on how many pitches, maybe a couple of hitters. Then bring him back on Sunday. And set it up where he can pitch a full inning and see how it goes.”

Miller says he trusts his knees after a set of simulated games in which he threw upwards of 30 pitches, but that he is fine with that not being the case upon his return.

“I don’t know out of the gate that we’re going to do that but yeah, my simulated games have been pretty extended, probably more so than anything I would do in a real game,” the lefty said. “We’re trying to make sure that we’re prepared for that, and I think we are.”

Though what the team may be preparing for may be different than what outsiders may expect. After throwing 19 1/3 innings in the 2016 post-season, Francona says he does not plan on running Millers pitch count as high this time around.

He never wanted to last season, only doing so by necessity.

“That bothered me at times,” the skipper admitted.

“I thought it was a lot. The intent was never to have him throw that many pitches. He’s able to do it. I just don’t know that… again, we’d love for him to be a huge weapon. I don’t think that it entails throwing that many pitches.”

While Francona had his reservations about the usage, Miller said he felt strong physically following the Indians’ march to the World Series. He said that feeling continued through the World Baseball Classic in March.

The southpaw said that after his combined 40 days on the disabled list between two stints, his hope is that he again will pitch as much as possible prior to the post-season. The idea is not that he will throw as many pitches as possible, but instead be prepared.

“I think that, you know, ideally you kind of pitch in all the types of situations you’re expected to see down the stretch, so whether that’s multiple innings or back-to-back days, all that kind of stuff, I think we’ll try to cover those things in an ideal world.”

The positive in the situation upon entry is that Miller and Francona feel better about the situation than they did beforehand. The pitcher himself says he feels stronger and prepared to take on more in terms of work load.

The first time around, there was an idea that Miller could both manage the injury and still give the team what they needed while doing so.

“I don’t think we ever felt he was 100 percent last time,” Francona said. “I don’t think we ever said that. I think they felt like it was an ongoing… but we could manage it and let him keep doing his stuff while he was pitching. That didn’t work.”

Now that the injury was fully dealt with, the plan is fit in six or seven outings before the postseason, and there are no plans for any sort of surgery following the team’s exit.

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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