BOSTON -- A year ago, Andrew Miller was determined to prove that he could eventually live up to his promise. The fact that he was presented on Thursday with Boston's Fireman of the Year Award by the Boston Baseball Writers was a pretty clear indication that 2012 at last gave him something to build on.
"I haven't been honored for too many things for my success at the Major League level, so it's a huge honor, and I'm very humbled by it and appreciative of it," said Miller.
Miller was always looked upon as a starter, but things changed last year, mainly because he developed a leg injury during Spring Training. There was no longer time to get him stretched out, so then-manager Bobby Valentine kept him as a reliever for the entire season.
The role clearly suited Miller, as he went 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 53 games.
"It was good. I don't know what to credit for that," Miller said. "Maybe just getting a few good ones under my belt right out of the gate. It was very good for me. It was important to really show that things were going in the right direction for me. I'm looking to build off that."
Miller could be one of three lefties out of the bullpen, joining Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales.
"Last year was good. I think I can still pinpoint a few things that I can improve on pretty easily with hindsight," said Miller.
Gomes brings 'underdog' mentality to Red Sox
BOSTON -- Jonny Gomes isn't here to turn the Red Sox into the 2008 Rays, the 2010 Reds or the 2012 A's. Those teams were all division winners. But the way those teams grew is not identical, even though they all came from "low-market clubs, 'quote unquote,'" as Gomes said.
"You kind of look at it like hitting," Gomes said on Thursday before the Baseball Writers' Association of America (Boston chapter) dinner. "Everyone's got a different batting stance. Everyone's hands high, hands down, high-ball hitter, low-ball hitter. But you hit it over the fence, you get to circle the pillows -- that's all in common. So there are certain things in common, but at the same time, you've got to find your own identity for that team."
It's a question Gomes is hearing more often, though: How does the underdog get it done? The 32-year-old left fielder believes that the moves the Sox have made around him -- Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, etc. -- can help create a dynamic that replicates what he's seen in the past.
"As far as the guys that have came in, you know, I would consider [them] all ballplayers," he said. "And I love to surround myself with ballplayers -- someone who you know you're going to get 100 percent, someone who you know plays the game right, and you know doesn't take for granted being in the big leagues and being in between the lines. … Napoli coming from Texas, Shane Victorino coming from the National League, [Ryan] Dempster coming from the National League, also has a little taste of the American League. So we're getting a little piece of pie from everybody."
Ellsbury is likely Farrell's leading man
BOSTON -- Manager John Farrell doesn't have to produce a lineup card for a game that matters until April 1. But he's already thinking about combinations, and it sounds as if you can expect Jacoby Ellsbury to bat in the leadoff spot.
Although Ellsbury has mainly batted first in his career, the Red Sox experimented with him in some other spots last season, with former manager Bobby Valentine batting him second 12 times and third 10 times.
Ellsbury erupted from a power standpoint in 2011, hitting 32 homers, but he went deep just four times during his injury-plagued, 74-game 2012 season.
"If guys play to their abilities, I think anybody looks at Jacoby Ellsbury as a leadoff guy with that kind of ability to not only steal bases but drive the ball with some consistency," Farrell said.
Dustin Pedroia, it would stand to reason, will just about always bat second or third.
Shane Victorino, Farrell indicated, might bounce around.
"The one variation to look at is against a left-handed pitcher. You can see Victorino in the two-hole against a lefty, you can see him down in the five-, six-hole in that area [against a righty]," Farrell said. "But I think the one thing that stands out is with [Stephen] Drew's addition and now [having Mike] Napoli, it gives us that complement and that balance left and right all the way through the lineup."
Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. 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.