LOS ANGELES — For the first time in over 10 weeks, right-hander Shelby Miller is back in the Dodgers bullpen. He was activated off the 60-day injured list before Thursday’s series opener against the Braves.
Space on the 40-man roster for Miller’s return was freed on Wednesday when Tyson Miller was designated for assignment.
“It was a grind. At first, I didn’t think the extent of it would be as bad as it was,” Shelby Miller said at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. “We were pretty shocked with the results, but it is what it is. It put me out for a little bit. But I’m feeling a lot better now, and happy to be back.”
Miller was experiencing neck pain, but those shocking results came in the form of an MRI that showed a herniated disc in his neck that was causing the pain. He last pitched in a game for the Dodgers on June 15.
He pitched in eight games on a minor league rehab assignment over 23 days — “really freaking long,” Miller said — the first three of which were in the Arizona Complex League before joining Triple-A Oklahoma City. Miller allowed five runs in four innings in Triple-A but also struck out seven.
Miller was called up a day before active rosters expand from 26 to 28 players, of which at most 14 can be pitchers. That required a corresponding move for Miller’s activation, and Ryan Pepiot was optioned after pitching five scoreless innings on Wednesday night, his third consecutive strong outing.
The Dodgers will still call up another pitcher on Friday, one who will very likely figure into Saturday’s pitching plans, currently with a starter listed as TBA.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be an opener,” manager Dave Roberts said of Saturday’s pitching plans.
Only four healthy pitchers remain on the Dodgers 40-man roster who are not already on the active roster. Three of them have been optioned in the last week — Bryan Hudson (Sunday), Gavin Stone (Monday), and Pepiot (Thursday) — and can’t be called back up within 15 days unless replacing a player going on the injured list.
Emmet Sheehan was optioned way back on August 4, and can be called up without any other required move. He allowed five runs in 1⅔ innings in his last start last Saturday for Oklahoma City, but otherwise allowed only two total runs (one earned) in eight innings in his other two Triple-A outings.
Roberts would confirm that Sheehan will be the pitcher called up, but did say, “You’re on the right track.”
He also said the position player call-up Friday “remains to be seen.”