On Monday afternoon in Durham, Kevin Millwood will take the mound for the 542nd time in a professional baseball career that started 18 years ago.
(Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
According to baseball-reference.com, the 36-year-old pitcher has earned nearly $88.7 million dollars during his career to rank 55th in major league history. So he’s not back in the International League for the first time in 14 years because he needs the dough.
“The money is not an issue,” Millwood told me. “I feel like I can still play the game at a high level and win ballgames at the major league level. If I didn’t feel that way I would stay at home. I want to play as long as I can be competitive. I don’t ever want to walk out on to the field and doubt that I can get the job done. As long as I feel like I can get people out and win major league ballgames, then I’ll play. But there’s got to be somebody to give you that opportunity and right now, maybe that’s these guys. Hopefully, that’s the case.”
After going 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA for Baltimore last year, Millwood did not find work this season until the end of spring training when the Yankees offered him a minor league deal. After 3 starts between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/WB, Millwood opted out of his deal with the Yankees on May 1st, and sought an opportunity elsewhere. When injuries knocked John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the Red Sox rotation, Boston signed the former National League All-Star to a minor league deal on May 19th.
Millwood made his PawSox debut last Wednesday and the rust was evident as he gave up 4 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks in 2.2 IP.
“Physically, everything was good,” Millwood said. “I thought my slider and curveball were good, and I threw a couple of good changeups, but my fastball location wasn’t very good. That’s a big part of my game. I can’t expect to go out there right away and be lights-out with location. I feel like when my fastball location comes back, everything will fall into place.
“I’m still trying to build my pitch count up. I didn’t feel like I got tired in my last outing, but my mechanics aren’t as sharp as they need to be. When that comes around, my location will come around and everything should take off from there.”
Lackey returned to the Red Sox rotation on Sunday and earned the win in a victory over Oakland, but Matsuzaka will miss the rest of the season due to Tommy John surgery. 44-year-old Tim Wakefield is Boston’s fifth starter for now, and Alfredo Aceves has pitched well when needed, but Millwood’s goal is to be ready if he gets a call.
“It’s a great spot to be in right now with where this organization is and the type of team that they have,” Kevin said. “Knowing that there’s an opportunity to possibly go up and help this team win some ballgames is huge for me and it’s exciting. Obviously Wakefield and Aceves are throwing the ball well, but they see some potential in me or I wouldn’t be here. If I get myself right, you never know what’s going to happen. If they feel like it’s best for the team for me to go there and pitch some ballgames, then that would be great.”
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After having their 5-game winning streak snapped on Sunday, the PawSox will look to take 3 out of 4 in Durham in a Monday matinee at 12:05 – a game that will be nationally televised by the MLB Network.
Radio coverage begins at 11:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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