Miller unfazed by his rough spring debut

Miller unfazed by his rough spring debut

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Maybe it had something to do with the extra nerves he felt while pitching for the first time in a Braves uniform. Or maybe, it was just one of those days that even the best pitchers occasionally encounter while preparing for the season.

Whatever the case, Shelby Miller was just happy to know that he has plenty of time to bounce back from his ugly Grapefruit League season debut against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander retired just one of the seven batters he faced and exited facing a four-run, first-inning deficit in the Braves' eventual 12-6 loss at Champion Stadium.

"I'm not really worried about the outcome," Miller said. "Am I frustrated by it? Yeah. But at the same time, it's still the first game of Spring Training."

As Miller spends the next month moving toward his regular-season debut, he can take solace in the fact that he has left himself plenty of room to improve during his final five starts of the Grapefruit League season. Regardless of what transpires, it would be tough for him to be any more frustrated than he was while surrendering three hits and issuing a pair of walks -- including one with the bases loaded -- during this abbreviated stint against the Tigers.

"It's still early," Miller said. "I've still got a lot of time to work on things. But other than the fact that I made some bad pitches and left the ball in the middle [of the plate], my arm felt good and physically I felt good. That's about all that matters, right now."

"This is his first game of Spring Training," Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca said. "These things happen."

There certainly isn't much reason for the Braves to be concerned about Miller, who was acquired in the November trade that sent Jason Heyward to St. Louis. The 24-year-old pitcher had been one of the most impressive arms in camp over the past two weeks. But as countless other pitchers have learned, bullpen sessions and live batting practice can't prepare one for the extra adrenaline that is felt during games.

Miller surrendered consecutive hits -- an Ian Kinsler double and Anthony Gose's single -- to begin his afternoon, then seemed to right himself by striking out J.D. Martinez and inducing a Yoenis Cespedes grounder. But after Cespedes' ground ball did not result in an out because of third baseman Phil Gosselin's late throw to second base, this frustration-filled outing concluded with consecutive walks and Hernan Perez's two-run single.

"You're always a little amped up about getting back out there the first time and facing other hitters," Miller said. "It was a little different. I threw out of the stretch the whole time and couldn't get another guy out in the strike zone. But, other than that, I felt good and it just felt good to get out there."

Mark Bowman is the Braves beat reporter for He has been covering the club since 2001.

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