PHOENIX -- A bullpen session awaits D-backs pitcher Shelby Miller on Tuesday, the next step in his long return from Tommy John surgery last May.
Then comes some game action on Friday in extended spring training. Miller looks forward to seeing where his stuff is in what will be a bit different setting than has been the norm in his rehab, since he gets to face a different team instead of Arizona's Minor Leaguers.
"Friday's a big day for me, for sure," Miller said.
He figures after a few outings, he'll be ready for a rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues, starting at the Class A level and moving up to Triple-A, where he can build up innings and pitch counts. Then comes Major League activation.
The bullpen sessions started roughly eight months into his rehab, after range-of-motion exercises and playing catch.
"For me it's always been baby steps and trying to take it slow," Miller said. "It's tough, but I'm getting closer so it's exciting."
Miller can't immediately help the Diamondbacks' injury-depleted starting rotation that's missing both Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker. But with Walker out for the season due to his Tommy John recovery, Miller could step into that spot when he's ready.
He superstitiously knocked on his clubhouse stall when talking about his comeback.
"I can taste the finish line," he said.
D-backs reliever Archie Bradley is known for wearing the passion he has for the game on his sleeve, as seen when he reacted demonstratively to an umpire's call that led to his ejection in Saturday night's 4-3 win over the Astros.
Bradley yelled at third-base umpire Dan Iassogna after David Peralta was called out on a checked-swing appeal in the bottom of the ninth inning, moments before Arizona won the game in walk-off fashion.
Bradley, who was tossed after an inning of work at Triple-A Reno in his only other professional ejection, joked that Iassogna singled him out because of his trademark beard.
"I didn't think he swung the bat, but we're all entitled to our opinion," Bradley said. He expected a small fine but nothing further as far as league discipline.
"I was surprised, because I felt like all of us were doing the same thing," he added. "So when he said, 'You're out,' I was like, 'Me? Why? How are you going to single me out with all these guys here?'"
But Bradley figured his actions might have distracted the umpires from ejecting Peralta, who'd tossed his shin guard high in the air in protest and had to be held back by manager Torey Lovullo and first base coach Dave McKay.
"Better for me getting tossed than him," Bradley said. "He threw the shin guard like two stories high."
Lovullo said the team was lucky Peralta wasn't thrown out of the game. He knew he had to leave the dugout and restrain Peralta after a stern look from Iassogna.
"He has a breaking point, and I'm sure David was as close to that as possible," Lovullo said. "We did not need to get him ejected."
Matt Koch, the Diamondbacks' starting pitcher on Sunday, faced a former Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive start when took the mound against the Astros' Justin Verlander. He went head-to-head against the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw on May 1.
It was the first time an MLB pitcher faced MVPs in back-to-back starts since Ed Lopat of the White Sox took on Hal Newhouer of Detroit and Dizzy Dean of St. Louis in September of 1947.
"I don't think he is fazed by anything," Lovullo said of Koch. "Doesn't matter really who he's facing."
Hanging in with Souza
Steven Souza Jr. was in the Diamondbacks' lineup Sunday, his third game since his return from the disabled list. He was hitless in his first two.
"I'm not concerned about it. It's a very hard game," Lovullo said. "Physically he was ready. I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a drag or hangover once he got here. … I'm watching the things that are built inside of his swing, the balance, the approach. The conversation in between innings, it's all where it should be."