SARASOTA, Fla. - Chris Tillman said his four-inning, 62-pitch outing yesterday at Twin Lakes Park was “really good” and he remains confident that he will avoid a trip to the disabled list.
Tillman faced a group of Orioles minor leaguers in an 11 a.m. start, with pitching coach Rick Adair staying back to watch before joining manager Buck Showalter in Bradenton.
“It went well,” Tillman said. “I got the work in. Everything was there. Command was really good. I’m pretty happy with it.”
The Orioles want to make sure Tillman has enough innings under his belt before plugging him into their rotation. He was shut down earlier in camp with abdominal soreness.
“I feel like I’m ready to go,” he said. “I asked Rick if I could get up a time or two more yesterday, and he said, ‘No.’ They’re obviously trying to protect me, but I would have liked to. I felt good. Definitely had plenty left in the tank to get back there.”
Tillman isn’t aiming for a set number of pitches before entering the regular season.
“I think it’s more so up and down,” he said. “The more times you get up and down, that’s what the harder part is for me. And that’s how it is for most people, too. I don’t think pitches really has anything to do with it. We’re all athletic enough, we’re all in shape. I think we can all go out there and throw 120 pitches when we need to, to be honest with you. But it’s how many times you get up and down, that kind of thing.”
Tillman is lined up to pitch again Friday against the State College of Florida - which hasn’t staged any upsets in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Tillman could break camp having pitched in only two Grapefruit League games, and none since March 3.
Is it difficult knowing that he hasn’t faced a lot of major league competition?
“Yes and no,” he said. “Couple of my starts down against the Twin Lakes teams, I faced some decent hitters, guys I’ve seen in the big leagues for years. Those are guys who will let you know what you need to work on and what you don’t need to work on. I think, personally, I know from last year, in my bullpens, I know what I need to do to be successful and which direction I need to go in.
“Is it nice to get the feeling of being out there against a major league team? Yeah. But I don’t think it’s end all. I think I’ll be fine.”