Miller looks strong in rehab start

Miller looks strong in rehab start

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Even though the Boston Red Sox are short on pitching, with Curt Schilling and David Wells on the disabled list, Wade Miller isn't about to rush his rehab.

Miller, who's continuing his comeback from a frayed labrum, pitched five impressive innings Thursday night as the Pawtucket Red Sox nipped the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, 1-0, on Kelly Shoppach's sixth-inning homer.

"I really don't think about that," Miller said of a possible return to Boston. "I've got to think about getting back into pitching shape. I can't try and rush what I'm doing. There's no sense in that. I can only do what my body and my arm let me do.

"I'm just trying to get my arm in shape."

Miller will take his next step toward getting his arm in shape on May 3 when he pitches again for Pawtucket at McCoy Stadium, this time against Rochester.

"I think it's good to go every five days," Miller said. "Right now you've got to prepare your arm and your body and your mind for every five days, so I'm not looking to push anything back.

"I'm going to try and plead my case this week to try and start in Detroit (Boston visits the Tigers from May 2-5) but I don't think it's quite going to work. But I feel like I can get people out right now. I think I have good stuff. They feel I need to go one more. That's their call, so I have to do what they say."

Of the 79 pitches Miller threw against the Red Barons, 53 were strikes. He walked two, struck out three and four times topped out at 91 on the McCoy Stadium radar gun.

"That's fine," Miller said of his velocity. "But I'm just trying to get outs right now. I'm not trying to throw 100 miles per hour. Velocity is going to come. I'm not quite where I should be. But as long as I'm getting people out, that's all that really matters."

Red Barons manager Gene Lamont, who was Houston's third base coach during the right-hander's time with the Astros, impressed with the way Miller handled the team with the International League's fourth-highest batting average (.283) and the most home runs (28).

"I thought he threw the ball well and he threw some real good curveballs," Lamont said. "I guess at the start of the game I wondered if the curveball was going to bother his arm because he didn't throw a lot of them early. But later in the game he threw some and the ones he threw were real good."

For example, Miller caught Ryan Howard and Mark Budzinski looking at third-strike curveballs.

The Red Barons' only threat of note against Miller came in the second inning. After he retired the first two batters, Jim Rushford and Buzz Hannahan sandwiched infield hits (neither of which rolled more than 50 feet) around a line single by Carlos Ruiz. But with the bases loaded, Miller retired Danny Sandoval on a routine fly to right.

"I accomplished what I wanted to," Miller said. "I kept the ball down pretty decent but I left a few up. Other than that, I felt pretty strong tonight and felt like my control was getting better from last time. Everything felt pretty good.

"It's good to get this outing and face some quality hitters and get them out. I haven't pitched in a big league game since (last) June."

Miller got everybody out over the first 1 2/3 innings. Then, after wiggling out of the second-inning, bases-loaded jam, he encountered only one more speed bump, in the fourth when Rushford doubled with two outs and Ruiz walked. Hannahan popped out to right.

"I was basically trying to throw a lot of fastballs," Miller said of his pitch selection. "If they got on my fastball, I mixed in something else. But if I can spot fastballs, I can spot breaking pitches a little bit easier.

"If my mechanics are on like they should be, I'm going to throw strikes. If I'm going toward home plate, letting the ball go the way I should go, I should find the plate more often than not."

Considering Miller threw 67 percent of his pitches for strikes, there was little question about his ability to "find the plate" on this night.

Mike Scandura is contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.