SARASOTA, Fla. - Chris Tillman faced three batters yesterday in Fort Myers, struck out all three and was done for the afternoon.
Should we read anything into that one inning against the Twins? Are the Orioles considering him for a late-inning relief role?
The safe answer is “not at this time.”
Manager Buck Showalter confirmed that the subject has been broached in the past.
“That’s not the first time,” he said. “That’s come up two years ago, a year ago. You’ve also got to think about a lot of spinoffs of that. One thing we think we’re going to be a lot better this year is the depth we have behind us. I’m not going to penalize Tilly just because that’s something he would provide there.
“He’s doing what he needs to do to stay in this (rotation) mix. There’s a reason why he’s still here.”
Tillman went two innings in his first spring appearance, three in the next and 3 1/3 in the one that followed. Wei-Yin Chen started yesterday and went five innings. Jim Johnson pitched the sixth, Dana Eveland the seventh and Tillman the eighth.
“The reason why he pitched yesterday was it was his turn and I wanted to keep the ball in his hand,” Showalter said. “I know Rick (Adair) was talking about for his next outing he’d like to get him out there for a little more extended period to keep his arm strength, so we could go either way with him.”
Tillman’s fastball was clocked more than once yesterday at 96 mph.
“He had the scout section buzzing pretty good yesterday,” Showalter said. “A couple of them said, ‘Where did this come from?’ But it didn’t really surprise anybody in the dugout.
“You’ve seen him some 89-90 in the first inning and you go, ‘Who is this guy?’ Then all of a sudden he jumps up to 93-94. And he knows it. He’s frustrated by it.”
Game update: Adam Jones hit a long two-run homer off Boston starter Clay Buchholz in the first inning. The ball easily cleared the seats in left and might still be rolling through the parking lot.
Jones leads the Orioles with three homers and 10 RBIs. He was batting .323 before today.
Jason Hammel struck out two in the top of the first inning and his fastball consistently reached 93 mph. He threw 20 pitches, including 10 to leadoff hitter Nick Punto. Fourteen were strikes.
Majority owner Peter Angelos is attending today’s game.