GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Indians manager Terry Francona reached out Brett Myers over the offseason, the pitcher had a message for his new skipper.
"He was like, 'Hey, I just want you to know I don't like you coming out to get the ball,'" Francona recalled with a chuckle. "I was like, 'I don't really like coming out to get it.' That can be very helpful right in the middle of that rotation, a guy like that."
Myers is considered a competitor in every sense of the word. Indians third-base coach Brad Mills saw it first-hand in Houston, where he was the manager from 2010 through August of last season. Myers worked both as a starter and as a reliever for Mills.
Mills believes the pitcher is most valuable as a starter.
"I think he's better in the rotation," Mills said. "Any time you can get a guy that's going to compete like Brett's going to compete, and give you the amount of innings that he's going to give a rotation, that's going to help save a bullpen a lot. That's been his history."
That is why Mills and Myers were both a bit surprised last spring, when Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow suggested moving the pitcher into the bullpen. Houston did not have a clear-cut closer, and Myers had experience with the job with the Phillies in 2007.
Even after going 21-22 with a 3.79 ERA over 439 2/3 innings between the 2010-11 seasons, during which Houston piled up 192 losses as a team, Myers was willing to make the move. The 32-year-old righty just wanted to do whatever the team felt was best.
"It's one of those things where they made a decision, and I'll do anything I can to help the team," Myers said. "They asked me to do it and I wasn't going to fight them over it. That's what their opinion was. I don't know why, because I threw 440 innings the past two seasons."
Mills also abided by the decision.
"We talked about it and went back and forth," said Mills, referring to his conversations with Luhnow. "Any time you have a guy like Brett, where you're going to take 200 innings out of your rotation, I was kind of hoping we'd find somebody else to close. I say that in a nice way. But Jeff wanted to do it.
"Plus, they wanted to build up Brett's value a little bit, I think. I think he thought that was the best way to do it."
The Astros traded Myers to the White Sox on July 21 last season in exchange for three players. Between Houston and Chicago, the right-hander went 3-8 with a 3.31 ERA and 19 saves over 70 relief appearances. This past winter, the Indians inked Myers to a one-year deal worth $7 million (plus an option for 2014), and are giving him a shot as a starter again.
In his career as a starter, Myers has gone 89-79 with a 4.27 ERA in 249 games. He has logged at least 190 innings in six of his seven full seasons as a member of a rotation.
On Wednesday, Myers gave up one run on two hits in three innings in a 5-1 Cactus League loss to the Mariners.
Mills is confident that Myers can handle the transition back to a starting role.
"There's no doubt," Mills said. "He has done it before, but you get in a situation where it's almost like it saved his arm last year. He's still got those innings in him that he didn't pitch last year."