Tillman starts Saturday
With Brian Matusz a late scratch with acute back pain, the Orioles will call on Chris Tillman to get the ball a day early in Saturday night’s game against Tampa Bay.
The 22-year-old Tillman, who was the last starter announced in the O’s four-man rotation, was originally scheduled for Sunday’s series finale. He will be opposed by Rays right-hander James Shields.
Tillman, who posted a 3.93 ERA in Grapefruit League action, had an uneven spring, and said after his last spring start that he had his “worst stuff” all camp. The right-hander has been working with Connor and bullpen coach Rick Adair on retooling his delivery, and said Wednesday’s bullpen session gave him a confidence boost going into the season.
“After that, I feel fine,” Tillman said. “Coming off the start before that, if you had asked me [if I was physically ready] after that, I would have said no. But Mark and Rick, they worked hard with me the whole spring. We had a great bullpen session yesterday, so I’m real encouraged after that.”
Brad Bergesen is a candidate to make Sunday’s start in place of Tillman although nothing is official yet. The 25-year-old Bergesen had a rocky spring, allowing 11 earned runs on 25 hits and six walks, and finishing the spring with a 5.82 ERA. He was not a candidate for Saturday’s start given that he had thrown two innings in a game on Wednesday.