SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles will make two roster cuts Sunday morning and two more following the game against the Phillies in Clearwater.
Manager Buck Showalter was satisfied with Chris Tillman’s outing tonight despite the six runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. Eleven batters came to the plate in the second, but he retired 11 of the last 12.
“Chris got the six ups and pitched well after the one inning,” Showalter said following a 12-4 loss to the Twins. “Gave up a swinging bunt in the third, a ball off a cue shot off the end of the bat, about six pitches weren’t called strikes. He was OK.
“I would have taken six ups and 90 pitches before he went into it. Feels good. Curveball was good. That’s a pitch that’s been pretty good for him this spring that he didn’t have last year.”
Tillman’s fastball was 88-89 mph, which didn’t seem to concern the pitcher or his manager.
“Not comparatively speaking,” Showalter said. “Our gun’s different. The board’s about two mph off. I’m more interested by the way other teams are reacting to it. When Chris is pitching well he gets a lot of fly ball outs. Looks like they just missed one.
“Last outing was a little crisper, but he threw some balls 91, 92 tonight. But it’s not a pure velocity gun.”
How did Tillman steady himself after a five-run second?
“I think I just kind of did the same thing,” he said. “I didn’t really do anything different at the end of the game that I did early. I felt like the breaking ball got a little better. I was able to throw it for strikes. But other than that, I feel like fastball command was pretty much where I wanted it to be and the off-speed stuff was much better, so I was happy with it.
“I feel like this one was even better than the last one, based off what we’ve been trying to do here this spring. I was pretty pleased with the way this one went, other than the second inning.
“There was one ball hit in the outfield. Yeah, that one I’d probably like to have back, but all the other ones were pretty poorly hit in the infield, but you can’t defend those balls. Not a whole lot you can do.”
Tillman, who’s set to start the season’s fourth game on April 2 in Houston, threw 10 of 13 pitches for strikes in the first inning before his 35-pitch second.
“There wasn’t too much that we could have done different that second inning other than the walks,” he said. “Those will always come back and bite you.”
Asked where this outing leaves him, Tillman replied, “Right where I need to be. I was happy to get up that sixth time. That’s important, get the ups right where they need to be. Get extended, get the pitch count up, and I think as a starter that’s all you’re trying to do.”
Outfielder Austin Hays was optioned to Double-A Bowie before the game instead of getting an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk.
“We did it with Trey (Mancini) a couple years ago,” Showalter said. “Just some things to finish off. He really doesn’t have many at-bats at Double-A (261). I’m sure he’ll follow a similar path, hopefully. It’ll be up to him. Still got some work to do, like all young players do. We like him a lot.
“He had that problem with his shoulder. It’s been kind of a climb for him ever since then. He’s been rushing to get back, so we tried to take it slow with him, but he’s healthy and ready to go. Now, I think he’ll take a deep breath and continue his climb through our system. I think he’ll be an option for us again.
“He knows he’s going to have to do a better job. Some things that they exploited last year, you know? He knows what he’s got to do. He’s got a clearer picture. You look through his background, it’s pretty obvious what he needs to finish off, much like Trey. I don’t know how you can have better statistics than he’s had.”
Left-hander Joely Rodriguez retired all five batters tonight, getting three weak bouncers in the seventh, and allowed only one run in 10 1/3 innings this spring. He walked only one batter.
“He’s been solid,” Showalter said. “It’s fun to watch him. Nice job adding him. He’s had some problems with walks in the past, but it hasn’t been the case here. It wasn’t the case last spring either, though, but I don’t know what else a guy can do to impress.
“He’s one of the guys there’s some tough decisions on, but either way he’s going to be with us.”