Tillman may start season on disabled list

SARASOTA, Fla. - Chris Tillman isn’t expected to be the Orioles’ opening day starter on April 3 at Camden Yards after undergoing a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right shoulder in December.

Tillman contacted head athletic trainer Richie Bancells two months ago to express his concerns over how the shoulder was responding to a throwing program. It’s the same shoulder that forced him on the disabled list last season.

If Tillman is placed on the new 10-day disabled list, the assignment can be backdated to March 30 and he would be eligible to pitch on April 9 against the Yankees in Baltimore. If he stays on the active roster, he could pitch April 7 in the third game of the season.

chris-tillman-throw-gray.jpgTillman would be limited to 75 pitches in his first outing, whether it’s with the Orioles or at extended spring training.

The current schedule, subject to change, calls for Tillman to begin participating in pitchers fielding practice (PFPs) on March 3, throw a simulated game on March 14 and start his first exhibition game on March 17.

“This is as fast as we feel comfortable going,” said manager Buck Showalter, noting that the injection has put Tillman three weeks behind.

“We have high hopes we can get this resolved and he will pitch all year for us.”

Tillman joined Dave McNally, Jim Palmer and Mike Mussina last year as the only Orioles to start three straight opening days. Mussina was the most recent from 1998-2000.

Removing Tillman from the competition could allow Kevin Gausman to take the ball on April 3 against the Blue Jays. Other starters penciled into the rotation are Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez and left-hander Wade Miley. Gausman seems to be the clear favorite.

The Orioles traded Yovani Gallardo the Mariners on Jan. 6 for outfielder Seth Smith, already knowing the condition of Tillman’s shoulder.

Tillman has already left the complex and won’t be available to the media until Wednesday morning. He participated in fielding drills today but didn’t throw.

Tillman can be a free agent following the 2017 season.

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