FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pitching for the first time since he felt some stiffness in his left elbow, Andrew Miller would have been happy just to be pain-free Friday night.
The fact that he showed dominant stuff was a bonus.
"Tonight was probably the best stuff I've had, across the board, in the last couple of years,'' said a satisfied Miller.
Pitching the fifth, Miller walked leadoff hitter Joe Mauer, but then retired the next three hitters, two by strikeouts.
"(The elbow) felt real good,'' said Miller. "Hopefully it's something that's in the past. The real test will come (Saturday) morning, but I feel real good right now.''
Miller had been scheduled to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 8, but that outing was scratched when Miller felt some stiffness in the elbow.
"I think you're a little bit worried any time your arm hurts,'' he said. "It wasn't too uncommon a feeling. I'd like to think that, during the season, it was something I wouldn't have missed any time for. From the day (when I first felt it), every day felt pretty good and it got better pretty quickly. I've been pain-free since then.''
Miller's goal is to become a member of the starting rotation, but he realizes he's got some ground to make up after being shut down for a week and a half.
"There's still time to build up and lengthen out,'' he said. "But starters now are going five innings. The goal for me is to be with the big club, but if starting's going to be in the equation, it's going to have to happen pretty fast.
"I've got a ways to go if I'm going to be expected to go throw seven or eight innings...I hope this setback doesnt' eliminate me from that.''
If he doesn't make the rotation, he hopes he has a more meaningful role than serving as the long man, as he did for parts of last season.
"I don't think that's really a role anyone can succeed in,'' he said. "I don't think going long periods of time without pitching, then being expected to go into a game in the first inning of a 10-run game is really a way to succeed.
"I've never been in a situation where I've been asked to consistently get lefties out, or throw an inning or basically pitch three or four times a week. I think I'm capable of it. I would welcome the opoprtunity. My goal is to be part of the team. I think we have a great team and I want to be part of it.''
Whether he starts or relieves, Miller knows the key is to show better consistency.
"That's been my downfall historically,'' said Miller. "I've got to avoid the hiccups I've had in the past where I have a rough one or two (outings) in a row. A good starter is someone who goes out and gives you a chance (to win) every time -- not five out of six, or four out of five.''