Right-hander Justin Miller was back in the Nats clubhouse fresh off multiple pitching sessions in West Palm Beach. Miller has been recovering from a right rotator cuff strain that has had him sidelined since May 18. He has missed 42 games.
“I threw live BP (with) the hitters just tracking underneath the tunnels. The next day I had a day off, and the next day I threw a sim game, so live BP, basically. Then after that I had two days off and I threw the first (Gulf Coast League) game. Then I had a day off and I threw yesterday, another GCL game.”
Miller was lights out in the two Gulf Coast League games. In his first game he threw 14 pitches, striking out the side. In his second game, he threw 15 pitches with two punchouts and a groundout. He said his fastball velocity was around 92-94 mph.
“I was able to use slider, fastball, able to locate to all locations, felt pretty good,” Miller said.
The season started off rocky for Miller, who said he wasn’t feeling 100 percent beginning in spring training. In April he went 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA, surrendering four homers. In May he did a little bit better, with a 2.84 ERA in six appearances, but the shoulder got worse.
Now it’s time to pitch in real minor league games. The veteran right hander joked he won’t get an All-Star break this season, detailing his next 11 days:
“Hagerstown Tuesday, Harrisburg Thursday, then throw back-to-back in Harrisburg,” Miller said. “Then I’ll have three days off. That’s the schedule for right now. It could change. We’ll see what happens. They have me on a schedule all the way ‘til (July) 18th. It all depends on what they want to do.”
Miller said the physical rehab to recover from the shoulder strain went well. He has been able to build strength and better flexibility.
“Shoulder has been pretty good,” Miller said. “I feel like I’m getting more extension now. I feel like I’m actually using the right muscles and not straining the capsule. It’s actually using muscles now, and not the actual capsule.”
He also said he has been thrilled to see the team rebound and go on a 27-11 run. But whether the team was scuffling or rolling, he just wants to get back to pitching.
“We are going in the right direction,” Miller said. “It always sucks to have a setback.”
Meanwhile, Miller’s rehab teammate in West Palm Beach, right-hander Kyle Barraclough (right radial nerve irritation, June 16), has been added to the high Single-A Potomac Nationals roster to begin his rehab assignment.
Update: Brian Dozier slammed a solo homer in the second inning off of Royals starter Jakob Junis. It was his 14th homer on the season. The Nats have now homered in 21 straight games, extending their franchise record. The Yankees hold the record this season with 31 straight games with a homer. That streak ended recently.
Patrick Corbin has six strikeouts and no runs allowed through three innings.
After three innings, the Nats lead the Royals 1-0.
Update II: Junis has done well since the homer. Overall, he has allowed one run through six innings on three hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. Corbin has been better. The southpaw has thrown seven shutout innings on five hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks.
Mid-seventh, the Nats lead the Royals 1-0.
Update III: Victor Robles launched a solo homer over the left field wall in the seventh, his 13th homer of the season. Corbin finished seven innings. Fernando Rodney came on in the eighth. Corbin threw 104 pitches, 69 for strikes.
After seven innings, the Nats lead the Royals 2-0.
Update IV: Adalberto Mondesi’s RBI single off Rodney in the eighth got the Royals on the board. With two outs, Sean Doolittle allowed a run-scoring double by Alex Gordon to tie the game.
Mid-eighth, the Nats and the Royals tied at 2-2.
After eight innings, the Nats lead the Royals 5-2.
Update VI: Doolittle finished off the ninth, allowing a base hit for Cheslor Cuthbert, but nothing else.
Final score: the Nats 5, the Royals 2.