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If Shelby Miller thought time was ticking by at a snail’s pace while he’s been waiting for his turn to pitch, just wait until the right-hander walks into the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse on Friday.

It will drag along so slowly, it might leave him catatonic.

“I’ll feel good. I’ll probably have some butterflies and be a little nervous,” he said. “I mean, nervous probably isn’t really the right word for it. I’ll probably be more anxious than anything. But yeah, just sitting here waiting for that time to come? It seems like it goes by forever.”

When Miller finally does make his 2017 debut Friday night against the visiting Indians as the fifth starter in Torey Lovullo’s starting rotation, he can only hope the first inning at Chase Field flies by at warp speed. A nice 1-2-3 first frame might be the quickest way for him to finally turn the page on his disappointing 2016 season.

It was wrought with headache and failure, a strange trip to the disabled list, and an unflattering 3-12 record with a 6.15 ERA.

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A new year, however, means a new start, and Miller has been looking forward to this one for months.

“Yeah, I mean probably so,” he said. “Probably the first start is a little bit more special than others, maybe. All of them are meaningful to me. We’ve been doing this for so long. Each one is big. This one, though, is probably bigger than any other because of how I performed last year. It obviously wasn’t good.

“Coming back and trying to trying to rebound this year is obviously one of the biggest things I’m trying to do, and I’m feeling good and ready to go. Friday’s definitely going to be a special day for me.”

Lovullo is just as eager to see how it turns out.

“I’m anxious to watch everybody go to work,” he said. “I know he’s anxious because he’s the last starter and he’s had to wait patiently. But during that time, he’s been a tremendous teammate. He’s been backing all of his guys, and I can see the excitement in his eyes. I know that he has a lot to prove, and I know he’s anxious to get this season started.”

Once he gets this start out of the way, Miller also knows he won’t have to talk about last year nearly as much. Then again, it sounds like he’s already moved on from that.

“I’m not really worried about last year,” he said. “I’m more focused on what’s happening right now.”

Scheduled days off

Don’t be surprised if Lovullo gives regularly scheduled days off to several of his everyday players, but specifically outfielders A.J. Pollock and David Peralta. Both missed most of the season last year with significant injuries, and Lovullo doesn’t want to overload them moving forward.

“Part of the plan is to give David several days off, and last year was a year where he missed a considerable amount of time, so we don’t want to drop a 155-game schedule right on him this year,” Lovullo said.  “We’re going to pick our spots with David. We’re going to pick our spots with all of our players. Nobody is going to play every single game; that’s my objective.”

Lovullo didn’t want to put a hard number on the amount of games he plans to sit Pollock. The center fielder, though, will get more days off than say, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

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“Goldy’s going to play somewhere in the middle of the 150s,” Lovullo said. “A.J. will not. He’ll play less. A.J. is in the same category as David. These are two real important pieces to our puzzle that are going to contribute all the way through the end of September, so knowing what they did last year and the time they missed, we can’t go full-throttle on them.

“It’s a dangerous proposition. We want our athletes healthy, strong and ready to perform in the most important time of the season, and that’s going to be, hopefully, meaningful games in August and September.”

Open invitation

On a day when Cardinals running back David Johnson took batting practice with his players, Lovullo on Thursday said he would like to offer standing invitations to any and all athletes that want to try their hand in the batting cage and see what it’s like to be a big leaguer.

“We welcome anybody that wants to come take BP with us,” the first-year manager said. “Come out to the stadium and get a taste of what’s going on around here. I think as athletes go, we can identify with one another, what the grind is like, and when you can step away and have a moment in another sport, see how it’s run and just get down on that level, it’s pretty exciting.”

Lovullo noted that NBA star Russell Westbrook, a fellow UCLA alum, will be in town with the Oklahoma City Thunder for a game Friday night against the Suns. Lovullo said he’d love it if Westbrook could also make it to the ballpark.

As for Johnson, the manager said he loves the person and the player and joked he would “do anything” to add him to the Diamondbacks. “But I saw his swing,” Lovullo said. “He might have to start in the minor leagues.”

Reach McManaman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.

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