Tag Archive | "Chris Tillman"

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Tillman pitches 2 2/3 innings in first rehab start

Posted on 17 April 2017 by Luke Jones

Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman took his biggest step yet in his return from a right shoulder injury on Monday night.

Making his first minor-league rehab start at Double-A Bowie, the veteran allowed one run and two hits over 2 2/3 innings against Richmond. Tillman gave up a solo home run in the first inning, struck out three, and walked one in the process of throwing 42 pitches.

Multiple reports from Bowie indicated that Tillman threw his full assortment of pitches with his fastball sitting in the high 80s and topping out at around 90 or 91 miles per hour. That velocity is below his career average, but he told reporters that he felt good on the mound after initially having difficulty getting loose. Manager Buck Showalter indicated earlier this month that Tillman was still in the process of rebuilding strength in his shoulder, making the diminished velocity less surprising.

“I don’t know if they’re ever going to really feel like there’s a point where Chris is completely [where they say], ‘OK, he’s done that, so everything’s fine,’” Showalter said on April 8. “Each time he takes a workday and each time he throws, you’re anxious to see how he feels the next day.”

Should Tillman respond favorably to his first rehab start over the next day or two, he is expected to next pitch for Single-A Frederick. The Orioles hope that the 29-year-old will be ready to return to the major league rotation by early May if he does not suffer any setbacks.

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Orioles re-sign veteran outfielder Bourn to minor-league deal

Posted on 11 April 2017 by Luke Jones

The Orioles continued to add to their collection of veteran options in the minor leagues by re-signing outfielder Michael Bourn on Tuesday.

Just over two weeks after being granted his release, the 34-year-old has re-signed with Baltimore to another minor-league deal, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Bourn suffered a broken finger just days after signing with Baltimore in late February, but he is nearly recovered and is expected to report to extended spring training in Sarasota.

The surprising emergence of veteran Craig Gentry this spring lessened the immediate need for Bourn on the Baltimore bench, but his speed and defensive prowess were assets for the Orioles over the final month of the 2016 season. The lefty-swinging outfielder batted .283 with two home runs and a .793 on-base plus slugging percentage in 55 plate appearances with Baltimore last season while primarily serving as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner.

The current outfield mix at Triple-A Norfolk includes Chris Dickerson, Logan Schafer, Michael Choice, and Pedro Alvarez, who is adjusting to right field after previously playing both corner infield spots in his major league career. The Orioles are currently without fourth outfielder Joey Rickard, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained left middle finger.

With Rickard on the DL, Trey Mancini was starting in left field in front of the Green Monster at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. It presented an interesting test for a rookie making only his second professional start in the outfield after previously serving as a first baseman in the minor leagues.

The Orioles also announced the re-signing of injured pitcher and outfielder Dariel Alvarez to a minor-league deal. Alvarez injured his right elbow in his conversion to the mound this spring and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery.

In other injury-related news, manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that Chris Tillman’s outing in Tuesday’s extended-spring game went well. The right-hander was expected to complete two innings or 30 pitches — whichever came first. Showalter said Tillman could potentially start for Double-A Bowie on Monday if his next workday goes well.

 

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Tillman continues rehab process in Sarasota

Posted on 08 April 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman took the next step in the rehabilitation process for his right shoulder by throwing live batting practice in Sarasota on Saturday morning.

Monitored by pitching rehabilitation coordinator and former Orioles hurler Scott McGregor, the veteran right-hander threw 25 to 30 pitches and used all of his pitches in what amounted to a workday. McGregor told manager Buck Showalter that the session went well, but they will monitor how he feels on Sunday as they have the morning after every throwing sessions he’s completed this spring.

Tillman is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday when he goes two innings — or 30 pitches — in an extended spring game.

“He’s going to have to get built up,” Showalter said. “We had a [radar] gun and we filmed it today, but I’m not going to broadcast that. But he’s not where he’s going to be or needs to be, but that’s expected, especially at 10 o’clock in the morning with not a whole lot [going on]. You have to really push the intensity level.”

Showalter would like Tillman to rejoin the major league club after Tuesday’s outing to continue the rehab process, but a return to the Baltimore rotation is not expected until early May at best. The Orioles have mapped out a schedule for Tillman to pitch in minor-league home games with local affiliates, which would allow him to continue working out of the clubhouse at Camden Yards.

While reiterating that Tillman’s session went well on Saturday, Showalter went out of his way to be cautious in assessing his progress and the long-term outlook.

“I don’t know if they’re ever going to really feel like there’s a point where Chris is completely [where they say], ‘OK, he’s done that, so everything’s fine,'” Showalter said. “Each time he takes a workday and each time he throws, you’re anxious to see how he feels the next day. I’d really like to keep him in that environment down there [in Sarasota] as little as possible. I’m hoping after his two-inning stint that we can get him back in this environment.

“We’re really lucky to have Scott down there, a guy who’s had a lot of history with Chris and knows when it’s right and when it’s not. But he was positive in his report today.”

NOTES: Closer Zach Britton said his right ankle was fine after rolling it in the ninth inning of Friday’s win, but Showalter still wanted to see how he would respond to throwing on flat ground during batting practice. The lefty has pitched in each of Baltimore’s first three games. … Several candidates are still in play to pitch in Toronto next Saturday when the Orioles need a fifth starter for the first time. Showalter mentioned Jayson Aquino, Gabriel Ynoa, Mike Wright, and Alec Asher by name. … The Orioles have reaped the benefits of a five-man bench and eight-man bullpen over their first four games, but that will change Sunday when starting pitcher Wade Miley is activated from the disabled list to start in the series finale against the New York Yankees. … Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander (elbow) has been cleared to swing the bat, but he has not been cleared to throw and is not close to being ready to start a rehab assignment, according to Showalter. The Orioles would love to keep him in the organization, but they will be faced with a tough decision when he’s ready to be activated from the DL.

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2017 Orioles preview: Chris Tillman

Posted on 03 April 2017 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day nearly upon us, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

Manny Machado
Kevin Gausman
Adam Jones
Darren O’Day
Seth Smith
Mike Wright
Caleb Joseph
Donnie Hart
Jonathan Schoop
Mychal Givens
Ryan Flaherty
Brad Brach
J.J. Hardy
Ubaldo Jimenez
Mark Trumbo
Wade Miley
Welington Castillo
Zach Britton
Chris Davis
Dylan Bundy
Hyun Soo Kim
Joey Rickard
Vidal Nuno
Trey Mancini
Oliver Drake
Craig Gentry

SP Chris Tillman

Opening Day age: 28

Contract status: Under club control through the 2017 season

2016 stats: 16-6, 3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 19 HR, 172 innings

Why to be impressed: The veteran made at least 30 starts for the fourth straight season and registered his highest strikeout rate since the 2013 season. Using his slider more than twice as much as he ever had in any previous season, Tillman registered the highest swinging-strike percentage of his career and was on his way to producing arguably his best season before going to the disabled list in August.

Why to be concerned: The shoulder issue that cost him the better part of a month late in 2016 resurfaced in the offseason, prompting him to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in December and a cortisone shot last month. His velocity was down over his final two starts of last year, another sign making you wonder whether the cortisone shot will allow Tillman to perform at a high level for long upon returning.

2017 outlook: Manager Buck Showalter said Tillman’s bullpen session on Saturday was “real encouraging” and has indicated that he could be back as soon as early next month if all goes well. Given the long-term nature of his shoulder problem, however, the right-hander being able to make even 20 starts at a solid level would have to be viewed as a win for the Orioles in his contract year.

2017 not-so-scientific projections: 9-7, 4.12 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 16 HR, 116 innings

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Gausman officially named 2017 Opening Day starter

Posted on 27 March 2017 by Luke Jones

Weeks of assuming have finally turned official as the Orioles announced Monday that Kevin Gausman will start on Opening Day.

The right-hander will be making the first season-opening start of his career as veteran Chris Tillman will begin the year on the disabled list, snapping his stretch of three straight Opening Day starts. Gausman will take the ball against Toronto while Dylan Bundy will start the second game of the season, according to manager Buck Showalter.

The Blue Jays will send right-hander Marco Estrada to the hill for next Monday’s opener.

Gausman blossomed into a top-half-of-the-rotation starter in 2016 with a 3.61 ERA in 30 starts covering 179 2/3 innings. His 9-12 record was a direct result of poor run support, but he looked the part of an ace over the final two months of the season by pitching to a 2.83 ERA over his final 12 starts spanning 76 1/3 innings. The breakthrough was no more evident than at Fenway Park on Sept. 14 when he pitched eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Boston and on the final day of the regular season when he pitched 7 1/3 strong innings at Yankee Stadium to help the Orioles clinch the second wild card.

It remains to be seen whom Showalter will tab as his fifth starter to begin the season as the Orioles won’t need one until April 15. Gabriel Ynoa and Jayson Aquino have emerged as intriguing candidates after strong Grapefruit League outings over the weekend.

Tillman is not expected to return in the first month of the season as he just began throwing again on Sunday after receiving a cortisone injection in his right shoulder.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts as spring training winds down

Posted on 22 March 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles in the midst of their final two weeks in Sarasota, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Ken Rosenthal fairly laid out positives and concerns related to Brady Anderson’s organizational role, but the big question is the future. With Dan Duquette’s contract expiring after 2018, is Anderson viewed as his successor and, if so, is he adequately preparing for that while still wearing so many other hats?

2. Anderson’s criticism of the handling of Jake Arrieta coincides with Baseball Prospectus’ latest look at the Orioles’ track record with pitching prospects. More scrutiny for both their talent evaluation and development remains in order from top to bottom despite the club’s success over the last five years.

3. Count me as a new World Baseball Classic fan. It’s refreshing seeing outward emotion without it leading to World War III. Cultivating more of this mindset in the majors would better grow the sport than obsessing over shaving 10 minutes from the time of game. Joy isn’t a four-letter word.

4. With baseball being a regional sport in terms of fan interest and player popularity, it’s been fun seeing Adam Jones shine in the WBC spotlight. In the process of pointing out what he isn’t, too many overlook just how important he’s been to the Orioles’ turnaround. He deserves this.

5. As the club counts down to Chris Tillman attempting a long-toss session this Sunday, you have to wonder what’s next if he again experiences shoulder discomfort after a platelet-rich plasma injection in December and a cortisone shot earlier this month. Plenty of folks have to be holding their breath.

6. You shouldn’t read too much into any spring numbers, but Trey Mancini is doing everything he can to make the club. In addition to posting a .926 on-base plus slugging percentage in the Grapefruit League, he is also learning the outfield. Finding a role for him is the obvious problem.

7. There’s much debate about whether Hyun Soo Kim is capable of hitting left-handed pitching, but he entered Wednesday just 2-for-5 with two strikeouts against southpaws in the Grapefruit League. It’d be tough to argue that Buck Showalter is committed to finding out if Kim can be an everyday player.

8. After Francisco Pena and Audry Perez were sent to minor-league camp on Tuesday, Chance Sisco remained as the only non-roster catcher in major league spring training. The 22-year-old isn’t making the club, but the Orioles wanting to take a longer look at him is a good sign.

9. Robert Andino will always be remembered for the final game of the 2011 season, but he’s appeared in only 13 major league games since 2013 and is just 4-for-39 with 11 strikeouts this spring. You have to wonder if the 32-year-old will be given a place in Baltimore’s minor-league system.

10. Perhaps Seth Smith doesn’t need a slew of at-bats to get ready for Opening Day, but he hasn’t played in two weeks because of a slow-healing hamstring injury. That’s an unsettling development for a 34-year-old right fielder who will likely be playing in cool conditions in April.

11. Despite his early success at the plate since re-signing, Pedro Alvarez going to the minors to learn the outfield should remain the plan. The corner outfield defense clearly hasn’t been prioritized recently, but run prevention needs to matter — at least somewhat — with a pitch-to-contact rotation.

12. After enduring headaches with fringe roster players being out of options in recent seasons, the Orioles’ only decision in that department is reliever Oliver Drake. The 30-year-old has had some limited major league success over the last two seasons, but he isn’t helping his cause with a 10.61 spring ERA.

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Tillman receiving cortisone injection for ailing shoulder

Posted on 15 March 2017 by Luke Jones

After weighing the options with the Orioles medical staff, starting pitcher Chris Tillman will receive a cortisone injection for the right shoulder that’s given him problems since last August.

The right-hander was shut down last weekend because of lingering shoulder discomfort that scrapped what was supposed to be a pivotal bullpen session. Already ruled out for the start of the 2017 regular season after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his shoulder in December, Tillman had hoped to be ready to join the major league rotation by April 15 when the Orioles need a fifth starter for the first time.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism to reporters in Florida on Wednesday that the shot could allow Tillman to resume throwing in the near future, which would mean he wouldn’t have to start from the beginning of his throwing progression. However, this is the second cortisone injection Tillman has received since August, leading one to wonder how serious the issue might be with his right shoulder. Showalter told reporters earlier this week that surgery is not an option now.

Placed on the disabled list with the shoulder problem last August, Tillman missed the better part of a month before returning to make five starts at the end of the 2016 season. He then began experiencing discomfort when he began his throwing program in December, leading to him receiving a PRP injection. Set to become a free agent next winter, the 28-year-old has made at least 30 starts in each of the last four seasons, but that streak is in clear jeopardy unless he responds very favorably to the cortisone.

Kevin Gausman is expected to be the Opening Day starter as Tillman’s streak of three straight will be snapped. It remains to be seen who might step into the No. 5 starter role with Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa, Jayson Aquino, and Chris Lee being the internal candidates to slot behind Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Wade Miley in the Baltimore rotation.

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Tillman shut down again with latest shoulder discomfort

Posted on 12 March 2017 by Luke Jones

A weekend bullpen session was supposed to determine whether Oriole starting pitcher Chris Tillman would remain on track to return to the major league rotation by mid-April.

Instead, it never even took place.

After right shoulder soreness postponed his scheduled Saturday session for a day, the veteran right-hander experienced more discomfort playing long toss and was shut down on Sunday morning. The Orioles had hoped that the recent soreness was caused by an antibiotic, but reality appeared to set in for their best starter since 2012.

“We’ve got a pretty good feel for what the issue is structurally,” manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Florida after Baltimore’s 8-6 win over Minnesota. “I’m still very confident he’s going to pitch for us at some point this year.”

Tillman has dealt with the right shoulder issue since last August as he missed the better part of a month of action. The 28-year-old did return to make five starts at the end of the season, but he experienced discomfort once again in December when he began his offseason throwing program, prompting the Orioles medical team to give him a platelet-rich plasma injection. The setback made it clear that Tillman wouldn’t be ready to start on Opening Day for the fourth straight year, but the club had hoped the shoulder issue was behind him once and for all and that he would miss minimal time in 2017.

Now, a rotation that was already lacking quality depth will be tested without the man who’s posted a 3.81 ERA in 844 2/3 innings since the start of the 2012 season. The ailment is also cruel timing for Tillman as he’s scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman is expected to take the ball on Opening Day, but determining who will be Baltimore’s fifth starter is anyone’s guess three weeks before the season begins. The internal options could include right-handers Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, and Gabriel Ynoa as well as left-handers Jayson Aquino and Chris Lee.

Of course, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette could look for a veteran addition with Doug Fister and Colby Lewis headlining the list of still-available free agents.

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Three key Orioles remain on mend for start of Grapefruit League

Posted on 23 February 2017 by Luke Jones

Three key contributors remain on the mend as the Orioles begin Grapefruit League action on Friday.

Closer Zach Britton (oblique), shortstop J.J. Hardy (back), and starting pitcher Chris Tillman (right shoulder) are said to be improving, but it remains uncertain when any of the three will be ready to play in spring training games. Britton’s injury appears to be the least serious and has not been specifically labeled an oblique issue, but he told reporters in Sarasota on Thursday that he is still feeling lingering discomfort in his side and hasn’t been cleared to begin throwing again.

Buck Showalter told reporters after Thursday’s intrasquad game that Hardy received a cortisone injection for the lower back spasms he’s been experiencing since last month. The Orioles manager said the injection was planned all along, but it comes a week after Hardy underwent various tests to determine whether there were any structural concerns with his back. The 34-year-old has dealt with the spasms at various points during his Orioles tenure, but these have lingered longer than in the past.

Tillman continued his throwing program on Thursday and says his right shoulder has responded well to the work. The 28-year-old won’t be ready for Opening Day and is likely to begin the season on the disabled list, but the Orioles have expressed hope that he can begin pitching in spring games by mid-March if there are no setbacks. Tillman received a platelet-rich plasma injection for his shoulder in December.

The good news is that Opening Day is still more than five weeks away, giving Britton and Hardy ample time to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Relief pitcher Logan Ondrusek is also continuing to recover from an ankle injury suffered earlier in camp.

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Shoulder issue to keep Tillman from starting Opening Day

Posted on 14 February 2017 by Luke Jones

The Orioles will have a new Opening Day starter this season, but that’s hardly their biggest concern as they held their first spring workout on Tuesday.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Sarasota that Chris Tillman will not be ready to pitch in the season’s first game due to a lingering right shoulder problem, but the Orioles remain hopeful that the veteran starting pitcher could still be ready to go by the end of the first week. The right-hander received a platelet-rich plasma injection in December and is currently three weeks behind schedule for the start of spring training. Showalter said Tillman could begin pitching in spring games by mid-March if there are no setbacks.

Turning 29 in April and set to become a free agent after the season, Tillman began dealing with the shoulder issue last August and missed the better part of a month after receiving a cortisone injection. He returned from the disabled list in mid-September to make four starts before taking the ball in the American League wild-card game on Oct. 4, but he completed six innings in just one of those five outings.

At last month’s FanFest event, Tillman expressed belief that the shoulder issue was finally behind him, but he made no mention of receiving the PRP injection.

“We worked hard this offseason to make sure it’s behind us,” Tillman said. “I did a lot more shoulder stuff than I’m used to [in the offseason]. I’m used to just showing up and pitching. We’ve worked hard, and I’m pretty confident it’s behind me.”

With Tillman having taken the ball for the last three season openers, Kevin Gausman now becomes the favorite to start on Opening Day against Toronto on April 3. A brief absence from Tillman at the start of the season would hardly be the end of the world, but the Orioles are not equipped with enough depth to endure a lengthy stay on the DL from their veteran ace.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette dealt veteran starter Yovani Gallardo to Seattle in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith in January, leaving the likes of Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson as the next in line behind the projected starting five of Tillman, Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Wade Miley. The Orioles also acquired right-handers Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa this offseason to add to their potential starting inventory.

Tillman has been the rock of the Baltimore rotation since the middle of the 2012 season and has posted an ERA of 3.77 or better in four of the last five campaigns. In 30 starts spanning 172 innings last season, he pitched to a 16-6 record with a 3.77 ERA and averaged 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings, his best mark since 2013. However, he did walk 3.5 batters per nine innings, his worst mark since 2011.

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