5/12/2014 10:05 P.M. ET
Miller aims to focus more, fix mechanical issues
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
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.
Kelly still slowed by strained left hamstring
ST. LOUIS -- Nearly four weeks removed from straining his left hamstring on a sprint to first base, Joe Kelly remains slowed by the injury and uncertain just how long the recovery will be before he is cleared to pitch again.
Kelly took more than a week off from throwing after his hamstring reacted negatively to his trying to get back on the mound on May 2. He resumed playing catch Monday -- lobbing balls from 130-140 feet, he estimated -- but that has been as much clearance as Kelly has been given.
He is not running, nor does he have a target date for returning to the mound.
"I've never had this problem in my life, so I don't know how to deal with it," Kelly said. "I put all my trust in [the medical staff]. When they think I'm ready to go and I think I'm ready to go, just go out there and pitch. It's something you don't want to re-injure and be out the rest of the year, because they're really painful and nagging. It is kind of frustrating when you're not with the team, watching every game on TV and wishing you could help them win. Right now, I'm just trying to get healthy and get out there."
Getting back onto a mound is just the next step for Kelly, who will also have to eventually go out on a Minor League rehab assignment to build back arm strength. Tyler Lyons, who started on Monday, remains the Cardinals' current stopgap in what was Kelly's rotation spot. It could be a spot that Jaime Garcia soon takes after he wraps up his current Minor League rehab assignment.
Jaime goes five innings in Triple-A rehab start
ST. LOUIS -- Jaime Garcia threw 74 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Memphis on Monday as he inched closer to a return to the Cardinals' rotation.
After having his first rehab start unexpectedly shortened due to being hit by a second-inning pitch, Garcia lasted five innings in this extended outing. He gave up a home run on his second pitch of the night and allowed another run in the fourth, an inning compounded by an error and a wild pitch.
In total, Garcia allowed three hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out five. He threw 45 of his pitches for strikes. He did not earn a decision, as Memphis came back to tie the game at 2 after Garcia's exit.
The Cardinals have not confirmed what is next for Garcia, though he may need one more rehab start before being considered ready to rejoin the big league team so that he can push himself closer to the 100-pitch mark. His schedule has him matched up to pitch on the same day as the Cardinals' fifth starter, which could make him a potential replacement for Tyler Lyons. Lyons has been filling in for an injured Joe Kelly.
Motte, Cards to host Strike Out Cancer night
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals and reliever Jason Motte have solidified plans to host a Strike Out Cancer theme night at Busch Stadium on Sept. 2, an event that will raise money for childhood cancer research in St. Louis.
Special theme-night tickets will be sold for the game against the Pirates, and those who purchase them will receive a bobblehead featuring Motte in his "K Cancer" T-shirt. Last season, Motte, while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, worked with a St. Louis-area apparel designer to create the "K Cancer" shirts that are now available in all 30 Major League Baseball team colors.
The theme ticket will also gain fans access to a pregame meet-and-greet with Motte. The Cardinals will donate a portion of each ticket sold to a cancer foundation. Those tickets can be purchased at cardinals.com/theme.
"Fan support for the Strike Out Cancer effort has been amazing," Motte said in a prepared statement. "I'm really looking forward to our night at the ballpark as it promises to be a nice way to honor cancer survivors, support those still fighting their battle, and remember those we have lost."
Having not pitched since the end of the 2012 season, Motte has dedicated much of his time off toward raising awareness of cancer. While that work continues, Motte will also soon be back on a St. Louis mound. He made four appearances last week as part of his rehab assignment with Double-A and will be pitching in Triple-A this week.
• Left-hander Kyle Hald has been named the Texas League Pitcher of the Week (May 5-11) after throwing seven scoreless innings and striking out seven in his Tuesday start. Hald allowed three hits and one walk in the win. At one point, he retired 15 of 16 batters faced. Hald, 24, joined Double-A Springfield on April 20 and is 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts.
• Since being sent down to Triple-A, Kolten Wong has hit .327/.373/.436 in 13 games with the Memphis club. He has scored 11 runs, swiped five bases in as many attempts and tallied four extra-base hits.
• In-stadium All-Star Game balloting began at Busch Stadium on Monday and will continue through June 16. Fans can also vote up to 25 times online at cardinals.com/vote until July 3 at 10:59 p.m. CT.
• Former St. Louis Rams player and NFL Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams was at Busch Stadium on Monday to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.