Diamondbacks’ Miller opts for elbow surgery, season over

PHOENIX (AP) Shelby Miller’s season is over after the Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander announced Saturday he will have Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

Miller, injured last Sunday during his start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, was diagnosed with right elbow inflammation and placed on the 60-day disabled list on April 27. He sought second opinions on his elbow during the week before ultimately deciding on major surgery.

Miller said he hopes to return to throwing next spring.

”It’s the best decision I think we could make,” Miller said before Saturday’s Diamondbacks-Colorado Rockies game.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said the news hit the team hard, with the type of environment and philosophy of team as family that he is trying to build in his first season with the Diamondbacks.

”A tough day for all us,” Lovullo said. ”We fully support him. We fully believe in the process that he followed, we fully believe in everything he has learned, and we’re just anxious to see how the surgery goes and start the strategy to get him back and get him working and see where that takes us for next year. But we’re hurting for Shelby. This is a tough day, not going to lie.”

Miller’s spot in the starting rotation currently belongs to Zack Godley, but Lovullo said he will know on Sunday the direction he’ll take in adjusting the rotation. Arizona has a day off on Monday before a six-game trip to Washington and Colorado.

Lovullo said the team will look internally at the outset.

”It’s time for somebody to step up, embrace that new challenge, and run with it. The candidates that we’re talking about, we feel very comfortable with,” Lovullo said.

Miller, 26, was off to a 2-2 start after going 3-12 last season, his first as a Diamondback. He had a 4.09 ERA over 22 innings.

”From the stories that I’ve heard and the things that I read, it was a very challenging year for him,” Lovullo said of Miller’s 2016 struggles and overcoming them. ”But I saw no evidence of that in my first conversation with him this offseason. I could see that he was a focused athlete and ready to accept some new challenges for 2017. I know that he’ll have that to build off of. The starts that he made this year were extremely impressive.”

Last Sunday, Lovullo grew concerned when Miller walked Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy in the fifth inning. When he later came out to see how Miller was feeling, Lovullo said Miller told him he couldn’t feel where he was throwing the ball. Miller was taken out of the game.

Miller came in Saturday with strong conviction about his decision to have surgery, Lovullo said.