Results tagged ‘ Chris Tillman ’

More spring odds and ends..

*Non roster invitee Josh Rupe was sent home today with a stomach bug. He wasn’t scheduled to throw anyway.

Derrek Lee expects to take batting practice before the week ends and Mitch Atkins is still sideline with an oblique issue. Lee talked about being game ready in today’s featured video, which you can watch here

*Frank Robinson’s message to the team this morning was about utilizing the practice time in Spring Training and manager Buck Showalter said it went over well.

“He obviously can command a room,” Showalter said of the Hall of Famer. “He’s been in front of players for quite a while. You can tell he has a real affinity for the Orioles.”

*Showalter praised the way Chris Tillman threw today. Tillman was among a group that included Michael Gonzalez, Jim Johnson and Justin Duchscherer that threw to hitters on Thursday.

*Brian Roberts is about 50 percent improved and is aiming to play by Friday or Saturday. He’s been dealing with neck stiffness. Showalter said Roberts wouldn’t have played in the first spring games even if he didn’t have this issue.
*According to ESPN’s Keith Law, Orioles top prospect Manny Machado has hired Dan Lozano to be his agent. Machado, the O’s top pick in last year’s Draft, was previously represented by Scott Boras.

Tillman ends on a high note


Chris Tillman ended a rocky 2010 season with one of his best starts, holding the Tigers to one run on three hits over seven innings in Friday’s Game 1, 10-6 win of a doubleheader. Due to the short turnaround time, most of these quotes didn’t make it in the game story, but here’s what Tillman said.

on ending the year strong.. 

I think it is huge. That last start of the year is always a big boost to the offseason. Last year, I had that tough one going into the offseason and it kind of sat there with me the whole offseason. It kind of gave me an extra kick in the butt though. It’s a lot better to end the season on a good note.
On improving his consistency…
That’s what I worked on coming into this year, too, is being consistent. With that new pitch this year, it has come a long way and I think it showed it today. I think that was one thing I needed to work on and hopefully now the whole package is there and  the consistency will be there next year.
Using the cutter

It’s been my best pitch this last go-around. I think it’s been one of my best pitches, yeah, and definitely today, throwing it for strikes whenever I need to throw it in the zone. I think it was my best pitch.
On his confidence
Its been a rollercoaster year. Those good [starts] are so good and those bad ones you’re kind of down low. But I think the key is to stay consistent. .. I think that’s something I’ll take with me into the offseason.
Why has the cutter improved so much?
 [I’ve got] confidence in throwing it. I’ve never thrown it before. I came to spring training, it was a new pitch. [Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] told me you need to throw it. Throw it as much as you can. And today actually he told me he wanted me to go to the cutter instead of the curveball when I got ahead of guys as my putaway pitch. I did that.

Tillman also said he will work out in California with fellow Orioles starter Brian Matusz in the offseason.

Orioles pregame notes on Arrieta, Simon and coaches

Orioles rookie Jake Arrieta will not undergo surgery on the bone spur on his right elbow, after a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum (who looked over the MRI images from LA) concluded the same thing the team doctors did. The thought is, don’t fix what’s not broken and the spur doesn’t hamper Arrieta at all right now.

Alfredo Simon’s three-game suspension was reduced to two and he will begin serving that for tonight’s game against the Rays. Having a short ‘pen also makes it likely that Chris Tillman will get Friday’s start in Baltimore, since the Orioles might need the services of long man Rick VandenHurk.

No coaching decisions will be made until after the season, with manager Buck Showalter saying he would “be shocked” if anything was decided on before the World Series. But, Showalter won’t just leave the Orioles current coaches pondering their future for the next four weeks, and will sit down with each of them individually to discuss things before the season concludes on Sunday.

Showalter has an idea of what he’s going to do, but wasn’t going to tip his hand. He did say he was impressed with the work ethic and professionalism from the O’s current staff. If you look at his track record, he doesn’t tend to just dismantle coaching staffs, so while he could want to bring in some of his own people, I wouldn’t be surprised if he retains some of the current crop of coaches.

More pregame notes

*The Orioles have not received Dr. Lewis Yocum’s opinion on Jake Arrieta’s bone spur, so right now the surgical procedure remains on hold. As a quick recap, Arrieta has a spur in his right elbow area that he’s hesitant to remove given that he hasn’t been bothered by it in the past.The O’s have taken the approach that they’d rather be safe and get the procedure done, instead of worrying about it down the road. Yocum is providing a second opinion on Arrieta’s MRI.
*Kevin Millwood will make his final start Wednesday with Thursday and Friday’s starters up in the air. One of those will be Jeremy Guthrie but if the O’s tab Chris Tillman to start, they will give him Thursday. If they go Rick VandenHurk, he will go Friday and Guthrie will go Thursday since VandenHurk pitched on Sunday in Toronto. Tillman will not pitch out of the bullpen if the Os elect to give VandenHurk another start.
*Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen will be the last two games, with Bergesen finishing up the season.
*Jim Johnson is not campaigning to start. He was asked if he liked starting better than relieving, which is a fairly obvious answer for most pitchers. Who wouldn’t like to get four days off and pitch one day? But he is not going to approach manager Buck Showalter about wanting to start. It’s also important to keep in mind Johnson has elbow issues and was available to avoid surgery with rehab. Having him serve as a bridge in the bullpen instead of a starter throwing over 100 pitches an outing, is probably best for the O’s – and JJ – long term.

Orioles/Rays lineups and tidbits

*Adam Jones will be out until at least Monday. He’s still not 100 percent after getting a cortisone injection in his left shoulder prior to Thursday’s game.

*Chris Tillman arrived in Baltimore late last night and spoke with reporters at length. Will have his quotes up for you later.

Not much news to report as the Os try to snap a season-high three game skid under Buck Showalter’s time at the helm…

Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
Julio Lugo 3B
Corey Patterson CF
Cesar Izturis SS

Jeremy Guthrie RHP


John Jaso C
Ben Zobrist 2B
Carrl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Matt Joyce RF
Brad Hawpe DH
B.J. Upton CF
Jason Bartlett SS

James Shields RHP

Tillman on his way, Os will go to 6-man

BALTIMORE — Chris Tillman is expected to arrive in Baltimore on Friday night and he will likely make his next scheduled start on Sunday for the Orioles.

Manager Buck Showalter said Friday afternoon that plan is not definite yet, but acknowledged it was what would probably happen. Given that the Orioles have several young arms reaching their innings limit, inserting Tillman in the rotation would give the team a chance to go to a six-man rotation to help get through the season’s final month.  It would also move the rest of the current rotation back a day, putting Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Brad Bergesen in line to pitch next week’s series in New York, which starts on Monday.

Long reliever Rick VandenHurk is also someone the organization wants to get a look at in a starting role, and he could make several spot starts in September.  VandenHurk was acquired for the Marlins in a deadline deal with the Marlins and the O’s could chose to skip a starters schedule turn entirely or just push back the rotation again to give VandenHurk a look.

The 22-year-old Tillman went 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA in two separate stints with the Orioles this season. He pitched to a 3.34 ERA for Triple-A Norfolk, posting an 11-7 record in 21 starts.

Roberts in lineup, Andino among 3 to come up

Update: The Orioles are expected to bring up three guys, Robert Andino, Nolan Reimold and Brandon Snyder on Wednesday. Pitchers will come later since the Os have a well-rested pen and can bring up an extra arm whenever they want.

Since Andino is not on the 40-man roster the Orioles will probably take Frank Mata or Armando Gabino off.

Chris Tillman is starting tonight in Norfolk and isn’t a lock to come up and join the rotation. He struggled last start and if he has another short stint, the O’s could rethink adding him. It’s an important outing to keep an eye on.

Brian Roberts and Adam Jones are in the lineup. Roberts (hip strain) was day-to-day following Monday’s off day and was clearing following pregame batting practice.

Given that Julio Lugo to a hit to the head over the weekend (although a CAT scan came back OK) and Roberts’ uncertainty, Andino will be up to provide some emergency depth. He’s not on the 40-man, so a move will have to be made there.

The Orioles are expected to call up a few players tomorrow, and then wait until Norfolk’s season ends next week to bring up the rest. Chris Tillman and Nolan Reimold are expected to be recalled, with left Troy Patton another possibility to help boost the pen. Keep in mind the Orioles are going to need innings and Patton can be used in long relief to give the Os some length. Current long man Rick VandenHurk is expected to get a few starts so if Patton comes up, he would presumably take his place


Jones, Britton, Tillman notes and Machado update

*Adam Jones is out of the lineup again, although he feels much better. (He made sure I mention that.) Seriously though, he’s having trouble running and really moving around still and will take another day off. 

*Chris Tillman is expected to be recalled as part of September callups, but he likely won’t pitch out of the bullpen and will join the Orioles rotation.

*It’s becoming increasingly less likely that Zach Britton will come up in September. There were reports that he would, and the Orioles can still go that way, but given that Tillman will come up and push it to a six-man rotation, it makes no sense to have Britton come up and sit the bench, or push it to a 7-man rotation. Britton will make his next scheduled start Aug. 30 in Norfolk and will most likely stay on schedule down there to end the season. Keep in mind the Orioles have a bunch of off days and to bring up Britton would really give guys too much rest. Plus, Britton isn’t on the 40-man roster and Orioles officials are leaning toward having him finish in Triple-A and obviously came back strong for Major League Spring Training.

*Orioles offensive coordinator and infield instructor Mike Bordick has been working with top Draft pick Manny Machado in Sarasota, Fla and giving manager Buck Showalter some positive reports. Showalter added that Bordick is usually a tough grader, and while Machado is shaking off some rust, he’s been progressing well in his workouts. Machado could get some at-bats in a GCL game by the end of this week, but probably won’t play the field until next week.

Checking on the Tides

With Craig Tatum expected to come back from a brief stint in Triple-A Norfolk for tonight’s game (taking Troy Patton’s spot), here are a few notes from Norfolk…

*Zach Britton made the start for Norfolk Sunday night and took the loss to drop to 1-2. Britton pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits –both career-high’s at Triple-A — with a walk and five strikeouts. He has now failed to complete five innings in four of his seven starts with the Tides.

I know a lot of people called for Britton to come up when the Orioles rotation was struggling, but his recent performance at Triple-A hardly warrants a promotion. The organization doesn’t feel like he’s ready right now, and don’t want to rush him up here just because there’s no one else. That’s part of the reason the O’s traded for Rick VandenHurk, who provides some starting pitching depth and could make an emergency start if needed.

Before this season, Britton had never pitched higher than Double-A, and while he still could be a September callup, he’s important enough to this organization that his development is still first and foremost.

*Nolan Reimold went 4-5 with a double, his 10th home run of the season, two RBIs and four runs scored in Sunday’s Tides’ loss. In his last 21 games, since July 18, Reimold is hitting .320 (24-75) with 13 RBIs, 15 walks and 17 runs scored.

*First baseman Michael Aubrey went 3-5 with three RBI and hit his 15th home run of the season.

*Kam Mickolio pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, walking one and striking out one for his second scoreless outing since returning from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list.

*Chris Tillman will start for Norfolk tonight and try to get back on track. Tillman has allowed 15 earned runs over his last 13 innings –a three-start stretch — and hasn’t lasted longer than five innings over that span.  

What do you do?

I’m off this series in Toronto with a prior engagement, but I’ve gotten a bunch of emails and questions on Twitter –enough to make me check out the remnants of last night’s game via the box score.

The question is, what do you do with Brad Bergesen? Should you have left him in longer? Do you call up Zach Britton in his place? Do you let Britton continue to develop?

Like I said, I’m not with the team and I don’t play couch-GM nearly as good as my friend/colleague MASN’s Roch Kubatko. I’ll be back with the O’s for Kansas City on Thursday, and by then I’m sure we will know Bergy’s fate.

The thing is, I’m not sure what the right move is here. It’s hard to punish a guy who is far from alone in his struggles. Do you send all the young guys back to Norfolk? Or do you let them develop in what is essentially a lost season ? Do you weigh each particular case in terms of who can maybe work through their issues up here and who can’t?

I wasn’t covering the Orioles last year and only vaguely remember Brad Bergesen when I covered an Os-Yanks series. I’ve heard he was great, a pleasant surprise for Baltimore. I’ve seen flashes of it (like that game at Fenway Park), but for the most part Bergy’s been ineffective. Is it mental or mechanical? Is the League catching up to him?

I’m just as perplexed/astounded as most of you are. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, interim manager Juan Samuel and pitching coach Rick Kranitz. But I certainly wouldn’t want any of their jobs right about now.

I will say this: I’ve done a lot of talking, mostly off the record in the visitors’ clubhouse and on the road. The general consensus about the Os young arms is they’re talented but the expectations placed on them this spring were incredibly unrealistic.
“Everything had to go right for those guys to have a chance,” said one rival GM. “And everything has gone wrong.”

None of these guys are even 25 yet. And most of them have about a year of service time -Bergy’s a little more, Jake Arrieta’s a little less, etc.  Will they all be as good as hyped? Probably not. But they aren’t this bad, either.

If they were scattered about other organizations maybe they’d still be in the Minor leagues or be a fifth starter with far less expectation. Instead, they are all up here together, pitching in the AL East with the general consensus being that they are the “Calvary” that will restore the O’s to prominence.

This spring, I spoke with an opposing pitching coach who watched Chris Tillman throw a Grapefruit League game and marvel at the possibilities. “They’re talented,” he said of the O’s young arms. “But they’re still a couple years away.”

The problem with relying on growing the young arms is the O’s don’t have any veterans or journeyman pitchers in the organization, or at Norfolk, who can come up and serve as filler. 

Look at the Tides rotation, or most of their roster in general. It’s a youth movement. I acknowledge that they’re trying to restock their farm system and really build a nice young core, but I think the element of adding a sprinkling of veterans, especially at Norfolk, was incredibly overlooked. Even the guys who are older, so to speak, don’t have years of League experience.

I know several AL teams overpay their Minor League veterans when they’re free agents to get them to stay in the system. The benefits are two-fold : first, you get a solid backup option if your prospects aren’t ready and you need a guy to come up for a quick stint. Two, you get veterans who are generally in good spirits about the organization and willing to help foster a positive, learning atmosphere. You get enough of these guys –particularly those who have been in the bigs — and your Triple-A team also starts to win a lot more games than it loses. In the Triple-A International League the top three teams are the Yankees and Rays affiliates, with Cleveland’s Columbus squad leading the West division. I’m not saying winning in the Minor Leagues is everything, but it’s certainly something.
The O’s lack of these types of veterans has also handcuffed them to an extent. It’s hard to trade away Jeremy Guthrie when you can’t think of a guy to take that roster spot. I know Kevin Millwood has come under fire, but he’s usually good for at least six innings.

People are clamoring for Britton to come up, but is he ready? He’s only made a handful of starts since being promoted from Double-A. He’s a guy you don’t want to have to shuttle back-and-forth, like they’ve done (erroneously in my opinion) with guys like Tillman and Bergesen.

This was supposed to be the year they all stood on their feet, so to speak. But having no backup option in case they didn’t, no Plan B, was risky. And now, you’re seeing just how dangerous it is.

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