Miller needs rehab appearance before return

Yankees reliever expects to pitch in at least one Minor League game

Miller needs rehab appearance before return

NEW YORK -- When he finally awakened following Friday's night's extra-innings win, Yankees reliever Andrew Miller headed to Yankee Stadium to throw long toss and a 30-pitch bullpen session Saturday morning, the latest step in his rehab from a strained left flexor muscle.

"All things considered, how early it was after a late night, I'll take it, happy with it," Miller said. "Physically, I felt good."

As part of the bullpen session, Miller threw simulated at-bats to pitching coach Larry Rothschild, working through mock game situations.

Miller has been on the disabled list since June 10 with the forearm strain. He didn't throw a baseball for two weeks, but he has since progressed and is nearing a return. Before that can happen, he said, he'll need at least one rehab appearance.

"I certainly expect to pitch in a rehab game," Miller said. "I think that's important, for me at least, get out there and get something as close to game speed as possible. It's been a while for me."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he can't predict how many rehab appearances Miller will need to make before he's ready to rejoin the Major League club. That decision is usually one Girardi leaves to the individual pitchers, letting them say when they're comfortable returning.

When Miller does return, Girardi said, he'll slot back into the back end of the Yankees' bullpen. Dellin Betances has filled in at closer in Miller's absence -- Girardi wouldn't name either pitcher his closer going forward.

"We have a couple closers down there," Girardi said. "I anticipate we'd just put him back down there and go from there."

Miller tallied 17 saves in as many chances before the injury. He allowed just three runs in 26 1/3 innings, striking out 43 and walking 10.

Alden Woods is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.