SAN DIEGO (CBSNewYork/AP) — Andrew Miller would be happy setting up for David Robertson rather than closing for the New York Yankees.
"I would have absolutely zero qualms about him being in the mix," Miller said Monday, three days after agreeing to a $36 million, four-year contract. "Honestly, I think he'd make us better. Whatever it takes for us to win is what I'm on board with."
A 6-foot-7 left-hander who is 29, Miller joins a bullpen that also includes All-Star Dellin Betances, Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren. Robertson saved 39 games in the first season after Mariano Rivera's retirement, then became a free agent. He's expected to command far more than Miller, and it's unclear whether he'll re-sign with the Yankees.
If Robertson leaves, Miller or Betances figures to take over the ninth-inning role.
"I'm pretty confident in myself. I think I can get three outs at any point in the game, wherever that may be," Miller said during a telephone call with New York reporters. "Whatever it is, it's fine with me. I want to win. I want to shake hands and high five at the end of the game. If have to get two outs in the sixth, there's value in that. We're starting to finally understand that there's outs in the game that may be more important than the last three outs in the game in the ninth inning."
Miller told teams during negotiations that his exact role wouldn't be a factor in his decision.
"I have no ego and I'm ready to fill whatever role is necessary or fits best for the team," he said. "If I'm handing the ball off to somebody, whoever that may be, I have no problem with that."
Miller turned down a $40 million, four-year offer in favor of the New York's proposal. He lives in Tampa, Florida, where the Yankees hold spring training.
"That's two months I get to spend at home that I wouldn't have otherwise, and that's one less move for my wife and my child to make," he said. "So that certainly makes life easier. I don't know that that's the kind of thing that I can put a financial value on."
Miller was 5-5 with a 2.02 ERA for Boston and Baltimore and held opponents to a .153 batting average this year. He averaged 14.87 strikeouts per nine innings, second in the major leagues behind Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman (17.67) among pitchers who faced at least 50 batters.
The former first-round pick made his big league debut at the original Yankee Stadium in August 2006, pitching a hitless eighth inning in Detroit's 2-0 loss in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. Just 21 years old and only three months removed from college ball at North Carolina, Miller retired Melky Cabrera on a lineout to right, hit Craig Wilson with a pitch, got Johnny Damon to hit into a forceout and induced Derek Jeter to ground out.
"I think walking to that mound in that stadium is incredible," he said. "Nothing could really compare to that old Yankee Stadium and how on top of you the upper deck was. ... To pitch against the Yankees, that's like doing something in the movies. It's hard to recreate or ask for, but it's a pretty special experience."
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