The two newer faces in the clubhouse

Let's start with Steve Johnson, who found out late last night that the Orioles were calling him up for a second time.

"It was after the game," he said. "I was about to head out the door and they told me to hold up and called me in. I packed my stuff and started driving."

Johnson spent two days with the Orioles in Seattle, but he never got in a game. He has no idea how long he'll be with the club or whether he's going to accompany them to Minnesota.

The only certainty is that Johnson will sit in the bullpen and serve as the long reliever if starter Miguel Gonzalez gets knocked out early.

"I'm definitely excited," he said. "Last time, I was excited, too, and I didn't happen to get in. We got a couple good starts. I'm really hoping for another good start today. I'm just excited to get another opportunity and be here if they need me. I know the deal and if they need me, then I'm here and good to go.

"Every time you come up here, I guess you reall don't know. I'm just going to be here as long as they need me. If that's one day or the rest of the season, who knows? I'm just going to enjoy it one day at a time."

Johnson hasn't pitched since July 8, and he's gotten into one game since June 30.

"We had a couple things happen with the (Jamie) Moyer situation. He comes to Triple-A, he's going to pitch. That's fine," Johnson said.

"I went in the bullpen for a while and did pretty well out of there. I've just been throwing when they've told me to throw. We had a couple guys get sent down with more big league time than I have. If they needed a spot start, I was there. When I got the ball, I was ready to go. You can't really look that much into it. I just need to do well when I'm out on the mound."

It's been an adjustment for Johnson, who's accustomed to starting in the minors and staying on a normal schedule.

"It's definitely different," he said. "I think the mindset of going to the bullpen is a lot different, and it's harder to go back and forth like I've been doing because you don't really know when you're throwing or if you're going to start. That's been hard, but the main part is, when you're in the bullpen, you've just got to get ready and go out there and compete."

Chris Tillman knows that he'll be starting tomorrow in Minnesota, attempting to follow up on his gem in Seattle.

Tillman allowed two unearned runs and two hits in 8 1/3 innings. He wasn't as sharp in Monday's start at Double-A Bowie, but the Orioles didn't seem to care.

They were more concerned about the back spasms that occurred following Thursday's workout at Camden Yards.

"It was definitely serious, but not as bad as I normally get them," Tillman said. "I got it after the workout on Thursday. But right now I feel really good.

"I did throw yesterday just to see how it felt, and you know, it felt good. I was happy. Not that I had to throw. I just wanted to go out there and play catch and be confident that I would be OK for tomorrow or today, whatever it was."

As for the Bowie outing, Tillman said, "It was an 11 o'clock game, first time pitching, but no excuses. I had a game plan going, what I wanted to work on. To tell you the truth, it wasn't the right game plan against that team. They were swinging good bats that day. I got in what I wanted to get in. Threw my changeup for a strike, my fastball outside. Overall, physically, I felt good."

Tomorrow presents the latest opportunity for Tillman to establish himself as a regular presence in the rotation. And the Orioles desperately need someone to step up.

"Every time I go out there, I want to go out there and compete and give my team a chance to win, no matter the circumstances," he said "I think it's kind of the mindset you have to have. If you're not (like that), you get content and this game will humble you real fast.

"I feel like in the past I haven't been as confident as I am right now. With what happened in my delivery, I feel like it's there for me now and I'm able to repeat it with all my pitches. I'm very confident right now. Just got to keep it that way and keep working.

"I think it's my delivery. It has a lot to do with my mentality, too. When you feel confident in your delivery, you feel confident. It all kind of plays together. I'm happy with it. I feel like when you're happy with it, you've got that confidence to go out there and really know you can get guys out."

Tillman said he worked twice with Rick Peterson, but has spent most of his time with Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin.

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