BOSTON -- As he gets closer to returning to Major League action, Red Sox right-hander Wade Miller is doing more than just rebuilding his arm strength and regaining command of his pitches.

Miller, using the advice of pitching coach Dave Wallace and assistant trainer Chris Correnti, is also working on refined mechanics that will hopefully put far less stress on his shoulder.

Over the years, Miller has gone with mainly a three-quarters release point, rather than a classic over-the-top delivery. The problem is that his arm has been going across his body, which could have contributed to some of the rotator cuff problems he had last season.

"Their biggest thing was just [not] throwing across my body," Miller said. "That was the biggest thing, taking a lot of pressure off the back of my shoulder. That was the biggest thing I have to overcome right now, so I'm landing in a different spot. My arm is a different location. Everything comes from the rubber down to the plate, it all takes its toll."

While Miller has been extremely enthused with the health of his arm, he thinks that the mechanical adjustments are the reason he isn't completely locked in yet.

"I actually wish I was throwing the ball better," said Miller. "My arm feels good, I just wish I was controlling the ball a little better right now. I'm going through some different mechanical things to try and relieve some stress off my shoulder. There's some things I have to get used to that I'm not used to doing."

Miller's first official rehab start came Wednesday for Class A Greenville, when he threw 73 pitches and allowed four hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings. He'll make another Minor League outing on Monday, though he's not sure where that will be.

If Miller has his druthers, the next outing will be at Double-A.

"I let Chris know that I'd like to pitch in a game with a little cooler weather. Hopefully, the next couple of times out, I can get a chance to do that. I don't mind pitching in cold weather," Miller said. "I grew up in the Northeast, so I don't mind it. I'd like to work my way up the ladder, I think that's the plan."

Miller thinks he'll need at least two more Minor League outings before he's ready to return, as the goal is to get up to 100 pitches.

Sox manager Terry Francona made it clear that the club will not rush Miller back.

"We want him to come back and be able to pitch very effectively," Francona said. "He's getting there. But we need to let him pitch a little bit."

Damon eyeing October: Sox center fielder Johnny Damon knows that the 162-game schedule has barely begun. He knows that his team, which entered Thursday with a 3-5 record, has come out of the gate in less than spectacular fashion. Damon thinks he knows exactly how things will shape up by the time all is said and done.

"In no way is anyone on our team panicking," said Damon. "Come Sept. 30, we are going to have 95 wins and we are going to be heading back into the playoffs. Unfortunately, you go through spells. Hopefully this is our time of the year where we do struggle a bit. We'll get it going. We'll try to finish up this homestand strong and then hit the road and get going from there."

Francona sticks by decision: A day after Curt Schilling lost his first start of the season, Francona had no second thoughts about sending his ace back out for the sixth inning, despite the fact Schilling labored through the fifth.

"I went back and looked at last night, looked at the [tape of the] game myself before Schil came in, and then sat through the inning with him," said Francona. "Because, believe me, I don't want to make mistakes. I know any time a pitcher gives up runs, it's viewed as a mistake, by [the media], by the fans.

"But I know how I feel about things and I don't want to put our team in a position that's not advantageous to winning. So I went back and looked at that a couple of times and talked to Schil about it, too. And just because I want to help our team be in the best position to win all the time. Basically, we're on the same page, which is good."

Manny due: Star slugger Manny Ramirez has struggled to get his bat going, taking a .219 average with no homers and four RBIs into Thursday's game.

But Francona saw an encouraging sign in Wednesday's game when Ramirez made a 400-foot out just below the triangle in right-center.

"I hope so because that was a good swing," Francona said. "He didn't get anything for it. But when he starts driving the ball to right field, right-center, like a left-handed hitter, that's what he does so well."

On deck: Left-hander David Wells will make his first Fenway start in a Sox uniform on Friday night when the Devil Rays come to Fenway Park for a three-game series. Hideo Nomo, who threw a no-hitter for the Sox in 2001, will pitch for Tampa Bay.