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Shelby Miller is walking around the Diamondbacks clubhouse with a “Dude, be nice” T-shirt. He insists the words have no significance but it does feel a bit like he’s talking back to the voice in his head.

It must be listening.

Four outings into spring training suggest the right-hander’s season is on a better trajectory than last year.

In two of his past three appearances, he struck out a combined 14 batters in 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and four hits. He’s had a few bumpy outings, too, but the vibe around camp suggests the team is encouraged by his performance.

The great thing about baseball is the clean slates that accompany spring. An offseason has a way of dulling memories, triggering optimism. As awful as 2016 was, 2017 could be recorded as Miller’s comeback season.

As poised as Miller was in response to his struggles least season, as much as he tried to paint a picture of confidence, how could it not have weighed heavily?

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These are the numbers fans remember: three, as in victories, and 4.35, as in the millions of dollars the team paid him last season. They think of the players the team gave up as part of the deal with Atlanta – No. 1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson and outfielder Ender Inciarte – and the Diamondbacks message of “we believe we can win now.”

How can that not sit inside your head?

Add to the mix a standout season in 2015 when he posted a 3.02 ERA and 171 strikeouts … and finished with a 6-17 record because the Braves were so bad.

That’s 29 losses in two seasons. To be tagged with that many has to sting one’s psyche.

Miller, 26, may not admit it.

Or even realize it.

Writer Robert Louis Stevenson referred to it as the house of many windows. “There we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passer-by to come and love us.”

It’s simple. A team gives up a lot for you. You want to please them. And no matter how thick-skinned you are, the knowledge of failure, and the constant reminder, from media to fans on message boards, hurts.

I respect the approach new manager Torey Lovullo has taken, saying he simply doesn’t care what happened last year.

Miller shouldn’t either.

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It’s the best way to move on.

Sports fans love a good comeback story and they may be the most forgiving group in society when it comes to on-field failure.

If Miller can move on from this, they can, too.

The Diamondbacks were off Wednesday but Miller pitched against San Francisco Giants minor-leaguers so he would remain on his regular schedule.

His fastball was up to 97 mph and it has hit 98 and 99 this month. That pitch has looked much healthier this season.

Because of Miller’s struggles last season, many forget how promising he was in his first two years in St. Louis: 25 wins combined and ERAs of 3.74 and 3.02, respectively.

He created a lot of buzz.

Last year was not the first time he faced tough expectations.

After Miller struggled in Triple-A Memphis in August 2012, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote this:

“The Cardinals’ first-round pick and the 19th overall selection of the 2009 draft carries more promise than any organizational pitching prospect since Rick Ankiel. Able to reach Double-A Springfield before his 21st birthday and considered a legitimate possibility to help the parent club this season, Miller enters Sunday’s start chastened by a frustrating season of his own making.”

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He rebounded that time with solid performances in 2014 and 2015.

This March feels different, too.

Last year during  spring training, he didn’t record a strikeout until his third start. He acknowledged he was battling mechanics.

This season, the team seems pleased with his work ethic, his focus, and in most circumstances, his performance.

He feels the same way.

“As good as I’ve felt in spring training,” he said. “I’m throwing the ball as hard as I ever have.”

Lovullo sent a positive message to Miller early in spring training:

“What I can evaluate and what I do know is, when I’m watching his bullpens, they’re energized, they’re focused, they’re productive and my interactions with him personally have been very upbeat and realistic. So I think he’s in a really good place.

“What I think it’s taught him is it’s helped him to grow as a player, and young players need those moments, whether it be successful or hardships, and in this case, we know what he went through. I know it’s been a tough grind for him to get to this point. He wants to go out and prove himself and earn everything that he possibly can.”

He may just do that.

As long as he can tune out the voices in his head.

Reach Paola Boivin at [email protected]om and on Twitter at Twitter.com/PaolaBoivin. Listen to her streaming live on “The Brad Cesmat Show” on sports360az.com every Monday at 10:30 a.m.

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