Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters
The Baltimore Orioles are inching closer to having starting pitcher Chris Tillman available for game action, but he still won’t be ready for the start of the season. Tillman received a cortisone shot earlier this week and is scheduled to start a long-toss program Wednesday, Rich Dubroff of MLB.com reports.
The 28-year-old right-hander has not appeared in a spring training game, but his expected extended absence has not come as a surprise to Orioles manager Buck Showalter. He suffered setbacks postponing his last bullpen session.
“I’ve been planning since Chris had some trouble last time,” Showalter said. “I wasn’t counting on him, anyway. All my plans have been without him there for April.”
Showalter and the Orioles have a schedule for Tillman in place, including five planned rehab starts. They’re being cautious with him to ensure he’s ready to pitch through to the end of the season, so missing a few April starts is not a huge concern for the Baltimore skipper.
Tillman, though, wants to take the mound as soon as possible.
“It’s frustrating for him, especially when you’re talking about a guy who’s been an Opening Day starter for us. He knows what he means to the club. Never have I had a feeling that anything’s crept in there as far as his (free-agent) status at the start of the season,” Showalter said.
Tillman, a free agent at season’s end, has been a workhorse for the Orioles, starting at least 30 games in four consecutive seasons. He went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 172 innings in 2016. His injury will break his streak of three straight seasons as the Orioles’ Opening Day starter.