Miller Comes Back To The Bronx As An Indian

Andrew Miller didn’t have to wait long to make his return to Yankee Stadium, as his new team, the Cleveland Indians, were in New York on Friday night.

This was just five days since he was traded from the Yankees to the Indians for top prospects, outfielder Clint Frazier, and pitchers Ben Heller, J.P. Feyereisen, and Justus Sheffield.

“I think, in general, it’s nice to come back,” Miller said in a pregame press conference on Friday afternoon. “It’s nice to see guys, but there’s not going to be enough time to catch up with everybody. Just nice seeing everybody in the ballpark, the people that work here that helped us every day for awhile.

“It’s not the most exciting thing to pitch against these guys after playing with these guys for a year and a half. I’m ready just to get back to baseball, I think it’s kind of been one distraction after another the last few months. I’m happy to be on a team that baseball’s the focus the rest of the way.”

It also is weird for the Yankees to see him so soon, but manager Joe Girardi could not have been more complimentary of his former top reliever.

“It’s strange. I think obviously we’re all excited to see him, but maybe not so excited to see him in a game, that sort of thing,” Girardi said. “We know how good he is, and he meant so much to this organization. It’s a guy that impacted our clubhouse and our team in a year and a half as much as anyone I’ve ever seen, in a sense. He’s obviously really going to be missed, but it’ll be good to see him, and I’m sure the kids will love to see little Max (Miller’s son) in that playroom too.”

Miller came to the Yankees on a four-year deal ahead of the 2015 season, in which he served as the closer. This season, he willfully moved to the eighth inning with the arrival of Aroldis Chapman. His selflessness was not lost on Girardi.

“What he did, his attitude and his willingness to win, his willingness after being the best reliever in the American League last year, his willingness to say ‘I’ll step down, I don’t need to close, let’s just do whatever it takes to win here,’” Girardi said. Just his unselfishness, how he was always preparing, first one in the clubhouse every day doing his work, just really a great individual.”

“It’s nice to be remembered that way,” Miller said when asked about Girardi’s praise. “That’s what I try to do, with all the teams I’ve played for, I saw the Red Sox win in 2013, I didn’t get to play, I was hurt. At this point in my career, the most rewarding thing is going to be that I am taking care of my family pretty well, but I think at the end of the day I’ll remember winning, and give myself the best chance.”

Indians manager Terry Francona said that he and the Indians players ‘appreciated’ that ownership stepped up to acquire Miller at the deadline, and he echoed what Girardi said about the lefty reliever.

“It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it certainly gives us a better bullpen,” Francona said on Friday afternoon. “You have a guy that, I mean, you guys know him from being here for a year and a half, and I knew him a little bit in Boston before I left, but the way he feels about the game is so refreshing. You’ve got one of the elite relievers in the game, but we’ve also got a guy who’s willing to pitch at the most opportune times of the game. That makes him even better.”

Miller said his time with the Yankees “was great, an incredible experience,” and added, “It’s obviously not the full term I signed up for, but I got to play with guys that are going to the Hall of Fame, I got to play in front of great fans, I got to put on a classic uniform, play for a team that has more history than anybody else.

“I’ll always have a Yankees jersey in my closet in my house, whatever, I’ll have all these memories. The people were great, the fans were great, I got a chance to live in New York City. I think a lot of my friends from college and growing up, would give anything to have a chance to live in New York City for a year and a half and get that experience. Lots of positives, I mean, friends with these teammates that will last long beyond our playing days and keeping up with them and pulling for them, as long as it’s not against us.”

Dellin Betances, Miller and Chapman formed the best trio of relievers in baseball, as they all are power arms that rack up strikeouts at an impressive rate. It was certainly unique and not something that one of them will forget.

“It was neat, I had never been part of a marketing effort, I don’t think,” Miller said, referencing how they were called No-Runs DMC. “Those two guys were incredible to pitch with. I had a fun time with both of them. I didn’t get to spend that much time with Chapman, like I did with Dellin. Both of them, what they achieved is because of hard work and they’re both large human beings at play. Those two guys have worked really hard at it, and you see it’s not just luck that they’ve fallen into with the results that they have. To see both those guys throw 100 miles an hour and do what they do, I don’t think anybody else matches those two guys, pure stuff, throughout the league.”

The Yankees fire sale began when they traded Chapman on July 25, then Miller last Sunday, and concluded by sending Beltran to Texas right ahead of the 4:00 p.m. deadline last Monday. All three were  traded for prospects.

Miller said the Beltran trade “didn’t surprise me at all,” and added that “it seemed like that was kind of inevitable.  I don’t know how Carlos reacted, but I’m sure the clubhouse missed him. He was pretty special to watch. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much pleasure watching a hitter prepare and go about his business as Carlos. I wouldn’t say I was close to Carlos, not texting back and forth with him, but he was a special player to watch, and a great memory of my time here.”

This is the second time in three years that Miller was traded at the deadline, with the other time being in 2014 when he went from Boston to Baltimore.

“I think, fortunately, I’ve been through it before, I got traded at the deadline some years back,” Miller said of transitioning from New York to Cleveland. “I think a couple things happen, that went really I really had a great time in Baltimore, ended up on a great team that had big aspirations. We didn’t quite complete the goals the team had, but I had a great time there. That experience I think is something to draw from.”

It was a former Indian and now longtime Yankee CC Sabathia, whom Miller credits with helping him get used to the idea of going to Cleveland when the trade was made last Sunday.

“I think CC made it a lot easier on me when I was traded here. I went by the clubhouse packing my bags, and told me I was going to love it there. People in the organization are great. City is great. He would put me into contact with other people and directions to go, and I think that kind of eased things a little bit.”

One obvious difference in Miller’s appearance is that he already is growing a beard, something the Yankees prohibit.

“I don’t know if it’s a statement, I think it’s more just me being lazy,” Miller said. “I’m not a huge fan of shaving, and if I don’t have to, I probably won’t very often.”

From CC’s counseling about what to expect to not using a razor, it seems like Miller will be quite comfortable in Cleveland.

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