Miller sharp in Cactus League debut — unlike last year

Archie Bradley delivers a pitch during the fourth inning of Saturday's spring training game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields.
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Shelby Miller’s forgettable 2016 season started with a rough spring. As the Diamondbacks right-hander seeks a big bounce-back season this year, he took the first step with a positive start Saturday.

Miller struck out three in two innings in what ended up an 8-4 loss to the Rockies at Salt River Fields. He struck out Charlie Blackmon to start the game — Miller didn’t record his first strikeout last spring until his third start — as part of a three-up-three-down first inning.

The Rockies scored a pair of runs against Miller in the second, but it just as easily could have been a scoreless inning had second baseman Brandon Drury come up with a hard-hit, two-out grounder.

“At this time last year I was battling my mechanics pretty hard and, you know, wasn’t as aggressive as I probably wanted to be with my pitches,” Miller said. “Today, I felt like I threw a lot of strikes and got ahead early in some counts, which set us up for some strikeouts.

Miller used all four of his pitches — fastball, curveball, cutter and sinker.

“Right now, mechanically and pitch-wise, I’m real confident in what I got going,” he said. “So for me that’s exciting, because last year I know I was battling that and battling a lot of things and didn’t have the best spring.”

First-year manager Torey Lovullo was equally pleased with Miller, calling the 29-pitch outing “crisp.”

Archie Bradley, who followed Miller, didn’t fare as well. The righty gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.

“It was the first inning of spring, but giving up runs, giving up hits, is something you don’t like doing,” Bradley said. “At the same time, it’s February. So we have a long way to go.”

The D-backs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first on a bloop double from A.J. Pollock, a RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt and a two-run home run from Jake Lamb of fellow lefty Tyler Anderson.