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Miller aims to focus more, fix mechanical issues

ST. LOUIS -- Having had a day to process his laborious 5 1/3-inning start in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Shelby Miller reported to Busch Stadium on Monday with a checklist of items that he plans to address in his upcoming start Friday and even the days preceding it.

The first change actually came Monday, as Miller was intentional about taking the field for his pregame throwing with a more focused approach. He intends to do the same in his side session on Tuesday.

"Sometimes when you play catch, you fall out of routine a little bit or don't take it as seriously as you need to," Miller said. "The big thing for me is, even when it's loosening up and playing catch, it's making sure to hit a spot and work on things even between starts every single day. I think maybe that's what I have been slacking at."

Miller, who is 5-2 despite not yet pitching into the seventh inning in any of his eight starts, has already begun dissecting video, too. He pulled tape of himself from last year to use as a comparison with video showing his current mechanics. Through that, he has identified some discrepancies.

What he still has to prove capable of doing, though, is correcting those mechanical issues in game. One of the reasons Miller had so many visitors -- catcher Yadier Molina, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and manager Mike Matheny -- on the mound during Sunday's start is that Miller was having trouble identifying when his mechanics were going awry.

"A lot of that is just different things mechanically that he thinks he's doing and can't feel it," Matheny said. "That's part of the growing pains."

Matheny described Miller several times as "close" to being right, though it will take both improved command and efficiency for Miller to get all the way there. He's had particular trouble commanding his fastball to the third-base side of the plate. Miller said trying to be too fine could also be a factor in his having walked 27 batters in 44 2/3 innings.

"Some of the things are just getting back in the strike zone," Miller said. "I feel like I'm trying to hit the corners a little too much, actually. … It's just the fact of getting back on the plate, focusing on every pitch, locking it in, delivering the pitch, every pitch at a time. Don't take it through the inning. Take it pitch by pitch. I feel like I'm real close. I know what I need to work on."

Awareness it the first step. Now, the Cardinals await the execution.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Shelby Miller