Results tagged ‘ Chris Tillman ’

Millwood passes primer

milly.jpg

With all the excitement of
the Julio Lugo trade
this morning, I didn’t get to watch Kevin Millwood throw in
his final spring training tune-up, like I had originally planned.

Millwood tossed a short, four-inning outing in the Orioles Triple-A game on the back fields of Ed Smith Stadium in
what was his final stint before Tuesday’s Opening Day contest against the
Tampa Bay Rays. At this stage of the game, it’s only important that Millwood
felt OK and walked off the mound healthy. Which he did.

 “It’s
just a final tuneup to try and mix in all of your pitches, and to see if there
is anything you need to work on between now and the first game,” Millwood said.
“I was fine with it. It’s hard to get any excitement or any adrenaline going
this time of spring. Everybody is ready to get out of here, but all in all, I’m
pretty happy with it.”

 “I
don’t think there will be a pitch count [for Tuesday's game]. I’ll be ready to
go as long as they want me to go.”

Millwood is a career 2-2 with a 6.16 ERA in five games
against the Rays; a number that goes up to 6.63 in the three starts Millwood
has started inside Tropicana Field. 

Historically the season’s initial months have been kind to
the veteran right-hander.  Millwood has a career 3.94 ERA in 64 games in
March and April, and last year he went at least seven innings in all five of
his April starts and in his first two starts in May.

Millwood will be opposed by Rays’ right-hander James Shields,
who will be making his team record third-consecutive Opening Day start. The
28-year-old Shields is the elder statesmen of a young and talented Rays staff
and, like Millwood, Shields has build a reputation as pitcher who consistently
works deep into games.

Shields has posted three consecutive seasons with 215 total
innings pitched, and excels inside the Rays home dome. He owns a 25-14 mark
with a 3.40 ERA at Tropicana Field, and is 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 15 career
starts against the Orioles.

*Chris Tillman tossed six innings in the Double-A game and got up to 101
pitches (with close friend Brian Matusz looking on.) It was his first outing in a week. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz
told me yesterday that one of the goals for Tillman at Triple-A will be
to pitch more. So look for him to get stretched out pretty good in Norfolk.

Orioles go prospect heavy, the plan for Tillman

Baltimore will travel to
Port Charlotte, Fla. Thursday to take on the Tampa Bay Rays for a 1:05 p.m. ET
contest. Highly touted prospect Jake
Arrieta
will get the start, followed by right-hander Steve Johnson. Prospect Brandon
Waring
will start at third base and most of the Orioles regular position
players aren’t expected to make the trip.

Opening Day starter Kevin Millwood will throw to catcher Matt Wieters in a Minor League game in
Sarasota with Mark Hendrickson also
expected to pitch. Chris Tillman
will throw in the Double-A game and get his pitch count up around the 90-100
range.

Tillman is expected to meet
with pitching coach Rick Kranitz, Minor League pitching coordinator Dave
Schmidt, bullpen coach Allan Dunn and Triple-A Norfolk pitching coach Mike
Griffin sometime on Thursday to go over a plan for the beginning of the season. 

“He’s got to pitch more for me,” Kranitz said of Tillman.  “He needs to understand and we
have to get this message across [to all the young pitchers]that we have to pitch more and not less. More innings,
less pitches, we got to pitch them.”

“It’s time to go. You got to show us what you got.”

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Orioles cut 8

By
now you know about Chris Tillman, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk in favor
of David Hernandez, who will be the Orioles fifth starter. The O’s just
announced that Alberto Castillo and Justin Turner will join Tillman at
Triple-A camp.

Catcher
Adam Donachie and outfielder Jeff Salazar has been reassigned to Minor League
camp as well. Baltimore will hang on to infielder Scott Moore and right-handed
pitchers Alfredo Simon and Ross Wolf, although they have also been reassigned to
Minor League camp. The trio will stay in Major League camp to provide depth.

The team’s roster stands at 33.

Tillman, Hernandez speak

We won’t know what president of baseball operations Andy
MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley think about the fifth starter decision until
after the game, but both David Hernandez and Chris Tillman spoke about the
move, which slots Hernandez in the rotation and Tillman in Triple-A.

There was definitely shock value,” said
Hernandez, who found out about 10 minutes before he spoke with the media. “I was
surprised, to be honest. It’s everybody’s dream to be on a major league roster,
let alone on the Opening Day roster. It’s something special.”

 

“I felt like I was not the lead
candidate going in, but you can’t look at it like that. That just makes you
want to work harder. Hopefully, I pushed Tillman to get better and I pushed
[Jason] Berken to get better. Tillman’s going to start plenty of times. There’s
no doubt about it. He’s that good of a pitcher.”

Tillman held it together pretty well,
although you could tell he was struggling to keep his composure.

“I don’t think I was blindsided,
but I did think mentally like it was a battle. I think that was the only fair
way to go about it. I went into the offseason with that mentality,” Tillman
said. “I did expect more of myself, obviously. I didn’t pitch as well as I probably
should have. It is what it is.”

Tillman spent most of the spring
working on his cutter, and was asked if he would have done things a little
different had he known the competition was results-based.

“No, [what] is getting me ready
for the season is working on things, you know?” he said.  “I think if I were to stick with my fastball,
change-up curveball it would have been a totally different outcome. I was
working on my cutter. I’m not saying where I would have been, but I think the
results would have been a different outcome.”

5th Starter to be announced Tuesday

David Hernandez.jpg

tillman.jpg

Although Chris
Tillman
and David Hernandez are slated
to make one more spring start, on Thursday and Friday, respectively, by this
time tomorrow we should know who will be the Orioles fifth starter.

Manager Dave Trembley said the competition is down to two
guys, which I had already blogged about earlier this week. With Koji Uehara’s move to the
disabled list eminent
, Jason
Berken
should make the Opening Day bullpen as the team’s second long man.

I also wrote earlier this week about Hernandez
replacing Tillman
as the frontrunner to win the spot. I stand by that.

To his credit, Hernandez, who likely knows whether or not he’s
on the team, told me he hasn’t been informed one way or the other.

“It’s a big secret,” he said with a smile.

Hernandez has thrust his name to the fifth-starter forefront
with his recent outings. He retired nine of the first 10 Red Sox batters he
faced Saturday, allowing four hits over five scoreless innings with six
strikeouts. He lowered his spring ERA to a 3.00 in the process, and impressed
Trembley with his tenacity and ability to escape several key jams — including
a bases-loaded, no-out scenario in the fourth.

To his credit, Tillman has said all
along that he has approached this spring as a situation he must win, rather
than have it handed to him. The 21-year-old was visibly frustrated with
Friday’s performance, which was an 88-pitch outing that yielded two runs on
four walks and four hits. It’s worth noting that Tillman’s struggles came
against a Minnesota lineup that didn’t have the power bats of Justin Morneau
and Joe Mauer, two Twins who would certainly be in a regular-season game.

In five spring games, Tillman has
a 3.86 ERA, allowing seven earned runs over 16 1/3 innings. His
strikeout-to-walk ratio (9K/10BB) is a glaring statistic, particularly given
the fact that the Orioles have made it clear the kid gloves are off and they
won’t carry that extra 13th pitcher.

Trembley said prior to Monday’s game that the decision will come Tuesday, so both guys will know where they stand in the organization for their final start.

Could Tillman be left out?

Although it has been widely speculated that Chris Tillman
will be named the Orioles fifth starter out of Spring Training, manager Dave
Trembley and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail both said Saturday
that no decision has been made.

If anything, the decision has gotten tougher and more
multi-faceted as camp has progressed. Jason Berken and David Hernandez have
both turned in solid performances as of late, furthering speculation that
Tillman could start the season at Triple-A.

“The thing we try to impress on the kids is the obvious fact
that nobody uses the same 12 pitchers all year,” MacPhail said. “The beginning
of the season is just a snapshot in time.”

MacPhail said that Hernandez and Berken are “absolutely” still
in contention for the team’s fifth spot and acknowledged that the heated competition
has been a welcome one.

“What I was telling our staff is we got guys competing for
our spots and we don’t have spots competing for guys,” MacPhail said. “And that
is a pleasant development particularly as it relates to our pitching.”

Trembley has called the team’s bullpen competition a
dogfight, and following Hernandez’s five shutout innings on Saturday, he used a
similar comparison to describe what’s going on with the back end of the
rotation.

“I would say we’re going to go 15 rounds with it,”
Trembley said. “We’re going to go the distance and keep battling and keep
running these guys out here and try to make the right decision and the best
decision. Guys are answering the bell and they’re making it real tough for me.
And I like it.”

The Orioles schedule to open the 2010 season makes middle relievers, specifically long-inning men, a necessity. Since the team will go with a 12-man pitching staff this season having  flexibility in the bullpen, which a guy like Berken could potentially provide, is a must. A scenario such as April 8 and 9, where the team will play a night contest in Tampa before their home opener at 3 p.m. in Baltimore the next afternoon, puts extra emphasis on having guys who can toss multiple innings of relief.

Baltimore plays 16 straight games starting April 6 in Tampa Bay, which leaves no opportunity to skip a rotation slot since there are no off days. It also puts the O’s bullpen in a tough spot should a starter falter and force an early exit.  Berken, who tossed four scoreless innings to follow Tillman on Friday, has been stretched out this spring and could provide another option as a long relief or spot starter. Right now, the team’s only option in that role would be lefty Mark Hendrickson.

Hernandez thrust his name to the forefront of the No. 5 starter job with his most recent outing. He retired nine of the first 10 Red Sox batters he faced Saturday, allowing four hits over five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. He lowered his ERA to a 3.00 in the process and impressed Trembley with his tenacity and ability to escape several key jams -including a bases-loaded, no outs, scenario in the fourth.

Although he started the season pitching out of the ‘pen, Hernandez has capitalized on the recent opportunities he’s been given to start. He made his first appearance as a starter on March 16 and is 1-1 in two official spring starts, excluding a 75-pitch outing in a Minor League game last week.  In 15 innings, Hernandez has allowed five earned runs and has 20 strikeouts to three walks. He said Saturday he has not been given any indication as to where -or in what role — he will start the season.

“I’m just trying to go out there and do the best I can every performance,” Hernandez said.  “Whether it’s good enough or not, all I can say is I went out and gave it my best effort. And [Saturday] the results indicated that.”

To his credit, Tillman has said all along that he has approached this spring as a situation he must win, rather than have it handed to him. The 21-year-old was visibly frustrated with Friday’s performance, which was an 88-pitch outing that yielded two runs on four walks and four hits.  It’s worth noting that Tillman’s struggles came against a Minnesota lineup that didn’t have the power bats of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, two Twins who would certainly be in a regular season game. 

In five spring games, Tillman has a 3.86 ERA, allowing seven earned runs over 16 1/3 innings.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio (9k/10BB) is a glaring statistic, particularly given the fact that the Orioles have made it clear the kid gloves are off and they won’t carry that extra 13th pitcher.

Although Berken is still considered more of a long shot to swoop in for the fifth spot, he has pitched his way into recognition, particularly in that sorely-needed middle relief role.So far, he has not been stretched as far as the other two, but Berken has had a solid spring and certainly has built up enough arm strength to pitch for long stretches out of the ‘pen.

Berken has a 2.84 ERA this spring, with seven strikeouts against three walks.

Trembley: Rotation won't be a shocker

tillman.jpg

Which means, (drumroll please) it will include Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian
Matusz, Brad Bergesen
and Chris
Tillman.

Trembley said pregame on Friday that the news will be
official as soon as Monday. But if you’re a Tillman fan, you can rest assured. Although it will be interesting to see what –if anything — would happen should David Hernandez have a good start Saturday against the Red Sox.

Tillman had his worst outing of the spring on Friday night,  allowing two runs on six hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings. The line doesn’t look bad, but Tillman never looked comfortable against the Twins lineup, letting some of his frustration about the strike zone bubble over. He tossed 88 pitches (51 for strikes) and surrendered a solo homer to Jacque Jones in the second inning. 

Following the start, Tillman mentioned how long the outing felt and called the laborious third inning “unacceptable”.

“I was working hard to get early contact and [the Twins batters] just kind of stood
there and watched them, and someone made a comment to me that it means
you’re probably throwing pretty good pitches and are just missing,” Tillman
said. “I thought most of those could have gone either way. I thought a
lot of them were right around the zone.”

Manager Dave Trembley noted that Tillman had too many three-ball counts and his pace of the game was a stark contrast to Twins starter Scott Baker. Baker, Minnesota’s Opening Day starter, made quick of the Orioles in the first half of the game, retiring 13 straight batters until Adam Jones’ single with one out in the fifth.

Tillman/Bergesen

They’re pitching against
different teams in different cities but I thought they could share a blog post.

Chris Tillman was almost perfect through three innings in Fort Myers.
Boston’s
Adrian
Beltre reached on a wild pitch after swinging at strike three to lead off the
third inning.  I’m hearing that the fourth inning was his only real bad
frame, as Dustin Pedroia doubled down the left field line on the eighth pitch
of the at-bat, and Kevin Youkilis homered to left.

Tillman lasted five innings,
throwing 70 pitches and allowed just those two hits and two runs. Not a bad outing
at all, considering the Red Sox starter-heavy lineup.

Boston’s manager Terry
Francona liked what he saw from the 21-year-old Tillman.

 “Good, real good. They made some moves a couple
of years ago. The young kids weren’t ready to show it at the big-league level
but now, unfortunately, some of those kids are starting to mature and we’re
going to see them in the big leagues,” Francona said.  “They
have a chance to be pretty good.”

Meanwhile, Brad Bergesen allowed two runs on three hits
over 4 2/3 innings against the Pirates. Bergesen had a nice outing after the
first, retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced and picking up four
strikeouts. I didn’t track his pitches but it figures to be under 70, since
Bergesen has had one less outing than the rest of the regular starters.

 

Since I’m in Sarasota, I got to talk to Bergesen, who said pitching
coach Rick Kranitz told him after the first inning to slow things down a bit.

 

“When I slow myself down, I get in a rhythm and I kind
of free my arm up. Instead of trying to force it, I let my pitches happen on
their own and trust the pitches and trust the delivery,” Bergesen said.

“For me, being
able to get out there and make that adjustment, it’s huge. I think that was the
biggest thing to get me over the hump and get me back to my old self, getting
back to that tempo and being able to make adjustments like that.”

Tillman talks about his outing

Chris Tillman
acknowledged it was different to pitch out of the bullpen on Monday afternoon, saying
he didn’t get to go through his usual pregame routine.  His self-evaluation of the 2 2/3 innings he
tossed was “good but not great”, and that’s pretty much reflected in his
pitching line.

He allowed the Red
Sox two runs on four hits over 2 2/3 innings, walking three and picking up a
strikeout. The three walks, according to manager Dave Trembley, were a
byproduct of a lot of three-ball counts.  Both of the runs were a result of a homer by Josh Reddick.

Tillman said he used
the outing to work on throwing the ball inside, and was pleased that he was
able to do that effectively since it was something he struggled with last year.

“I had a plan and I was working on it,” Tillman
said. “This is a team that we’re going to see a lot during the season, so
you’re not necessarily trying to go out and show them everything you’ve got.”

“I
wanted to work in and out with my fastball and beat them with that. Being a
young guy, I don’t really know how to go about that quite a bit yet.”

Bergesen's 2nd Start

Following his second
Spring Training start, Brad Bergese
n acknowledged he isn’t quite where
he needs to be, but he’s getting closer with each successive outing.

Bergesen tossed 2 2/3 innings Monday afternoon, holding the
Red Sox to two runs -both courtesy of David Ortiz’s homer – on five hits. He
also had a walk and a strikeout and reported to be pain-free, both in his right
shoulder and his left shin.

After his season was cut short when he was struck with a
line drive on July 30 of last year, Bergesen has been slowed this spring by a
strained right shoulder capsule suffered while filming a team commercial in
December.

He allowed two runs on three hits over 1 1/3 innings in his
debut Wednesday night, and acknowledged that it’s taking some time to get completely
in sync back on the mound.

“[Getting that feeling back] that’s a big part of it,”
Bergesen said. “But I did have a game plan going into [Monday's start]. I wanted
to try to lower the strike zone, throw as many strikes as a I could, get ahead
of guys. And I thought I did a better job of that today. But still, too many
hitters I am falling behind.”

Bergesen tossed 27 of his 41 pitches for strikes and said
the slider he hung to Ortiz was the worst pitch he threw all afternoon. The Red
Sox slugger was 1-for-19 prior to that.

Cla Meredith, who hasn’t allowed a guy on base this spring,
got the final out of the third inning, with Chris Tillman opening the fourth.
Meredith walked by as the reporters were interviewing Bergesen and joked that
he’d be waiting at his locker should the media need to talk about his lengthy
performance. He only needed one pitch to retired Adrian Beltre on a groundout to second.

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