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D-backs’ Shelby Miller expects to return ‘probably within a month’

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Shelby Miller winds up during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Lately devoid of good news on the injury front, the Arizona Diamondbacks might see light at the end of the tunnel.

Starting pitcher Shelby Miller, who last pitched his third extended spring game on Wednesday, believes he can make an MLB return from a Tommy John surgery recovery by the end of June.

“I think my next (start) is going to be on the road for rehab, finally go to an affiliate, probably be about five innings, 75 pitches again, or so, and build up from there,” Miller said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf show.

“I think I’m going to be back pretty soon, probably within a month.”

If he remains pitching on six days of rest, that rehab assignment could begin on Tuesday.

The Diamondbacks could use a rehab stint without setbacks.

Robbie Ray, who played catch out to 100 feet on Monday, remains on the disabled list with a Grade 2 oblique strain, and fellow starter Taijuan Walker will miss the rest of the year after requiring his own Tommy John surgery.

While the D-backs have lost 13 of their last 14 games due to a slumping offense, their starting pitching staff has been pressed. In the place of Ray and Walker, Matt Koch has held up well, most recently recovering from his worst outing (eight earned runs allowed) by allowing one earned run in 5.1 innings on Tuesday.

After that, Arizona didn’t fare well with spot-starts from Kris Medlen and Troy Scribner, but did get a strong outing in the last attempt to fill the final rotation spot. Veteran Clay Buchholz went 5.0 innings and allowed one earned run off two hits Sunday to earn himself another start.

Meanwhile, Miller played his first game action a year and a day after his Tommy John surgery on May 10, 2017, and his MLB return two months after that would lie on the faster-side of the recovery timeline.

Unsurprisingly, considering the Diamondbacks’ dire need for starting pitching, Miller expects to return as a starter.

“I would like to come back as a starter, obviously. I think I’m being built up as a starter right now throwing five innings and stuff,” he told Doug & Wolf. “I think that’s going to be my role. I’ve always been a starter, so I think that’s what I’m going to come back as.

“It’s been a heck of a year, a tough one,” he added. “It’s such a crazy surgery because they’re drilling holes in your bone, taking tendons and tying them in a figure eight. In the back of your mind you’re like, ‘Does this really work?’ But they’ve been doing it for so long. It’s hard to explain. My arm feels good. It still has a little ways to go, but overall I’m feeling great.”