Chris Tillman keeps saying the left abdominal strain that forced him to miss some time in spring training is no longer an issue. It is now further in his rear-view mirror and he's ready to come off the disabled list tomorrow night and make his first start of the 2013 season.
"Absolutely, I feel great," he said this morning. "I have since the last time I felt it. I've felt pretty good. Can't wait to get out there. First three games were really exciting.
"I am definitely ready and not holding anything back. Not being careful with it. That last start in Sarasota proved to me that I'm ready to go. No restrictions."
So healthy and set for that first start, Tillman now will try to duplicate a 2012 season where he went 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA over 15 starts. He allowed a batting average of just .207 to American League hitters and had an ERA of 2.79 in six home starts.
He sounds ready to try and do that again.
"You know, mentally, I'm in the right spot. Mechanically, I think I'm there. It's more of a mechanical issue (usually for me) than anything and we smoothed that out last year," he said.
"I'm excited. It's big to get us going in the right direction. All the guys have pitched well so far. Last year, we all fed of each other and that is what we need to keep doing."
Tillman said he feels more prepared to have success than he might have been at this time last year.
"One difference is I know what I did last year and I know what I need to get there," he said. "Going into spring training last year, I was still kind of searching to find myself. To find out what I had to do to become better. You always have to work to get better."
One area that improved for him last season was his velocity. Over the last four seasons he averaged 92.0 mph in 2009, 90.2 mph in 2010, 89.3 mph in 2011 and 92.2 mph last season.
Yes, he gained a few ticks in 2012 but he said that was not the only reason he had a good year.
"It is one of many," Tillman said. "Does it help? Yeah, but there are more important things out there. Being able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes is more important. You have to be an all around pitcher."