GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Brett Myers is back where he thinks he belongs.
Myers was converted into a reliever last year with Houston, but the right-hander has returned to a starting role with Cleveland, where he has already been penciled into the rotation after signing a one-year, $7 million free-agent contract that includes an $8 million option for 2014.
“I’ve started my whole career, so it’s nothing new,” said Myers, who is 89-79 with a 4.27 ERA in 249 starts over his 10-year big league career. “Last year was the first spring training I actually didn’t work as a starter to prepare for the season. My whole career I went to spring training as a starter, so it’s really no transition at all.
“It’s all pitching. It’s all getting people out.”
The move to the bullpen last year is something Myers is still trying to figure out. Though he had experience as a reliever in 2007 with the Phillies, the 12th overall draft pick in 1999 was fresh off two seasons in which he had logged 200-plus innings (33 starts) for the Astros.
He was one of Houston’s top starters, but instead found himself in a new role at the beginning of training camp last year.
“I still don’t know why,” Myers said of the relief relocation. “You’d have to ask them. I was willing to help a team, so that’s what I did. But I’d rather be a starter. That’s what I’ve always done. I’ve put up the numbers that show that I can start.”
Myers did a respectable job out of the bullpen for the Astros, posting a 3.52 ERA in 35 appearances before being traded to the White Sox, where he continued his relief work — 3.12 ERA in 35 games.
“I’m actually hoping the year in the bullpen may help him, may not have spent some bullets,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He looks ready to go.”
Myers got the win in his exhibition debut Saturday — a 13-10 victory over the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark — and Francona is hoping it’s a sign of things to come.
“(My expectation is) that he will throw a bundle of innings,” he said. “The one thing he’s always prided himself on is staying out there through six (innings) at least, through thick and thin. If you do that, you keep your team in a game. Your win-loss record from year to year is going to vary, depending on run support, but if you stay out there, you’re going to get some wins.”
Myers wears the innings-eater label with pride.
“I’ve always wanted to save the bullpen,” he said. “Those guys work every day. The more amount of time I can work with them not out there is only going to help the team. I like going out there and trying to control the game.”
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