Norfolk pitching coach talks about Chris Tillman

Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin said he is not concerned about Tides pitcher Chris Tillman, who is 0-3, 8.38 on the year through three starts.

The leading candidate to be the Orioles fifth starter in March, Tillman has allowed 17 hits in 9 2/3 on the year and got knocked out when he gave up four runs in the first inning of his last start on Sunday.

"Right now he is working on some things from spring training. That is what we are concentrating on with his side days," Griffin said. "Not necessarily mechanical, but working on getting a good downhill plane with the fastball. Working on the curveball command. His changeup has been very good. Plus, he's working on a cutter.

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"That last start, he just didn't have his good stuff and threw a lot of pitches. In the two previous outings, he was making headway in the things he needs to work on and I'm pleased with his work ethic. I look for Chris to take off here pretty soon."

Griffin knows Tillman well. He was his pitching coach at Bowie in 2008 and Norfolk last year also.

One possible reason for Tillman's rough start is that he continues to work on things in the game, like developing the cut fastball he began to throw in spring training.

"It's coming along pretty good. It's a work progress and needs some tightening up, but he is on the right path with that pitch. We'll continue to work on it."

International League batters are hitting .378 vs. Tillman. Griffin said one theory that can be scrapped is that Tillman is sulking over beginning the year at Triple-A.

"No, Chris is not that type of guy. He has fantastic work ethic and it has not waned on him one minute here since we started the season. He has completely taken to what he needs to work on. Chris's makeup is real, real good."

I asked Griffin if it's possible that Tillman's stats could suffer as he works on the cutter among other things?

"You could say that, but we have to keep in mind. He had a taste of the Majors last year and knows what it takes to win up there. He's working on things that will help him stay up there."

Coming later today: Griffin talks about Jake Arrieta's strong start and working with Brad Bergesen.

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