ST. LOUIS -- Four hours after taking a liner off his right elbow, Cardinals rookie right-hander Shelby Miller felt encouraged enough about his early progress that he refused to rule out making his next start.
Whether Miller will stay on turn will be determined by how his pitching arm responds in the coming day. Regardless, the consensus in the Cardinals' clubhouse after a 13-4 loss to the Dodgers was that the club dodged what could have been a much more severe injury.
"You always think the worst things when something like that happens, especially when you have the trainer trying to get you to grip stuff and you're just in shock," Miller said. "But coming in here, I got ice on it, making sure it wasn't going to swell up. The trainers were taking really good care of it. It's feeling better. It's probably going to be sore [Thursday], but at the same time, when I do certain pitching motions, it's just sore. Nothing hurts. I'm optimistic about it."
Miller threw only two pitches in what was his 22nd start of the season. On the second one, Dodgers' Carl Crawford sent a line drive back up the middle, and, with Miller unable to get out of the way as he finished his delivery, the ball ricocheted off his pitching arm and into shallow left field. Crawford legged out a double. Miller crouched down near the mound.
Manager Mike Matheny and trainer Chris Conroy made a short visit before walking off the mound with Miller. The rookie righty was diagnosed with a bruised elbow, and X-rays were negative. The ball, which left seam marks on Miller's arm, hit him in between two bones.
"I lucked out there," Miller said. "It's scary. No pitcher really likes comebackers, especially coming off your throwing arm. At first, you have no feeling in your arm and you don't know what to expect. But I came in here and got good results. I'm feeling good about it."
Reliever Michael Blazek took over and stranded Crawford to end the inning. Without a designated long reliever in the bullpen, the Cardinals then turned to Thursday starter Jake Westbrook to get the club into the sixth.
Miller's turn in the rotation will come up Tuesday, in the team's series opener against the Pirates. However, with an off-day Monday, the Cardinals do have the flexibility to skip Miller's spot. That would give him until Aug. 17 to recover without requiring a move to the disabled list.
"We've all agreed that it's a good chance I'm not going to miss any time," Miller said. "We have an off-day coming up, that's going to help. I'm sure Mike will maybe switch it up a little bit. But I feel like I'll be ready to go when my time comes around. It's going to feel like a little sore arm. That's it."
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.