A shortage of candidates for the rotation requires the Orioles to have short memories.
Tillman was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after Game 1 of last Saturday’s doubleheader in New York, part of the weekend craziness that included two trades and the Yankees’ 12-run first inning in Game 2. He’ll be replacing an injured player, right-hander Jake Arrieta, so he won’t have to stay in the minors for the minimum 10 days.
Arrieta will go on the disabled list and visit Dr. Lewis Yocum Wednesday in California. Surgery would appear to be the resolution.
Tillman is 2-4 with a 5.16 ERA in 11 starts with the Orioles. He’s allowed 65 hits, walked 21 and struck out 38 in 52 1/3 innings. His WHIP is 1.64.
In his last outing, he blew through the Yankees’ lineup for two innings, but was tagged with seven runs (five earned) and eight hits in 4 1/3. He struck out six and his fastball topped out at 94 mph, which left team officials encouraged, but the final stats left much to be desired.
Tillman is 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 starts with Norfolk, with 49 hits allowed, 23 walks and 32 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings. He’s had so many starts cut short by the weather, he’s earned the nickname “The Rain Man.”
“I told him I was once that during my career, in 1980 in New York,” said Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin. “I was The Rain Man. Every day that I’d take the mound, there was a real good threat of rain.”
The Orioles would prefer that Tillman provided a real good threat of a win.
“He’s made a lot of progress in his delivery,” Griffin said during our phone conversation yesterday afternoon. “It’s more athletic, more fluid. Everything is starting to get tightened up. I’m happy with what he’s accomplishing here.
“The best thing I’ve seen from Chris Tillman so far is his curveball has better depth here, a lot better than what I’ve seen in years past. The changeup has always been a good pitch for him.
“What he’s working on right now, and has been working on a lot, is trying to cut down a lot of his pitches per inning. He’s made some strides in that area also.”
Tillman was supposed to face Rochester’s Kevin Slowey tonight.
Twins first baseman and former American League MVP Justin Morneau is joining the Red Wings on an injury-rehab assignment.
Remember left-hander Zach Phillips, acquired from the Rangers for infielder Nick Green? He got the win last night for Norfolk after allowing a run and two hits in 1 1/3 innings in relief of starter Rick VandenHurk.
Jake Fox and Ryan Adams homered for the Tides.
Injury note: Shortstop J.J. Hardy exited last night’s game in the seventh inning with a sore left ankle. He’s listed as day-to-day and could be replaced in tonight’s lineup by Cesar Izturis, who will be activated from the disabled list.
Hardy, who hit his 19th home run last night, is expected to be examined by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens.
I guess we can start debating again who should bat leadoff.
With Hardy’s availability in doubt, it makes more sense for the Orioles to option Josh Bell today and keep Blake Davis as an extra middle infielder. Bell can’t get off the bench anyway, so let him play every day with Norfolk.
Bell’s still on the roster, right?
With Hardy healthy, the Orioles’ bench would consist of Izturis, Davis, Felix Pie and Craig Tatum.
Not a lot of thumpers there.