PHOENIX -- Shelby Miller pushed his pitch count into the low 90s in a Minor League game on Saturday, flew to meet his teammates in Phoenix later in the day and then learned that he won't have to wait long before he takes the mound again.
After considering the option of skipping Miller during the team's first turn through the rotation, manager Mike Matheny has decided to give Miller a start on Saturday in San Francisco. The team's off-day on Thursday had allowed for the possibility of using only a four-man rotation this week, if the club had wanted to get Miller more work on the side.
"I'm excited for it," Miller said of facing the defending World Series champions. "I know they have a great team. It will be an unbelievable atmosphere to pitch in as well. I got a little feel of how it is there in the postseason last year. The postseason was awesome and great, but that was last year. I'm just trying to get wins for the team whenever it's my day. And I'm real excited to get the start."
The start will be just the second of Miller's career. He pitched six innings of one-hit ball against the Reds in the final game of the 2012 regular season. Miller then faced the Giants twice during the National League Championship Series last October. He allowed four hits and two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Because he made only five Grapefruit League appearances, Miller stayed behind in Florida to get additional work on the backfields Saturday. Miller pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in a Triple-A game, allowed four hits, one walk and struck out seven. "Good reports," manager Mike Matheny said when asked what he had been told about Miller's performance.
"I did pretty well," added Miller, ranked by MLB.com as the Cardinals' No. 2 prospect. "I left some pitches up, which raised my pitch count. Against those guys, I was getting a lot of foul balls. But I didn't give up any runs, had some strikeouts, gave up only one walk. I threw some good changeups and curveballs, as well. It was a nice little warm-up before the season gets under way."
In his 16 Grapefruit League innings, Miller gave up 17 hits and seven earned runs. He began the season in a three-way competition for the fifth rotation spot but ultimately beat out Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal to earn a place on the Cardinals' Opening Day roster for the first time in his career.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.