Baltimore Orioles: Chris Tillman headed back to square one

It’s looking increasingly like Chris Tillman is not going to break camp with the Baltimore Orioles. It’s unclear if Tillman is destined for the DL or perhaps extended spring training, however the idea of him pitching in the first week of the season isn’t looking good. Tillman was supposed to play long toss at Ed Smith Stadium yesterday, and he was shut down with further discomfort in his right shoulder after only a few throws.

This is turning into a bit of a problem for a franchise that’s relying on Tillman to do great things this year. Tillman has been the Orioles’ ace the past few years, and in many cases he’s been the only pitcher who’s shown any sort of consistency for the team. Whether he can do that this year is very much in doubt.

This was also to be big year for Tillman himself, as he’s fast approaching the time when he’ll need a new contract. The last thing that he personally is going to want is an injury attached to his name or his performance. Buck Showalter said that in his mind the worst-case scenario is that Tillman starts over from scratch in terms of ceasing baseball activities (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

The worst-case scenario for me, well, not worse, is that he kind of starts over from scratch and stays down here in extended spring. It looks like he’s got a chance to be left here with (minor league medical coordinator) Dave Walker, but I’m hoping something changes here in the next week. He may try it again, I don’t know, or we may get back and he’s headed for another opinion. Because this is a big year for him. That’s when you know there’s something wrong.

With all of this said, read a bit between the lines there. What Showalter did not say was that Tillman would need to have surgery or anything along those lines. That’s not to say that surgery isn’t an eventuality, but I suspect that’s not on the table right now. But needless to say, this is a major concern.

Meanwhile, the O’s defeated the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers yesterday afternoon, 8-6. Catcher Austin Wynns‘ two-RBI double in the top of the ninth broke a 6-6 tie, and put the Birds in the lead. The Orioles led for all of about 20 minutes in this game – yet it still counts as a win.

Dylan Bundy struggled in this game however, having to exit earlier than he would have liked. Bundy’s line: 2.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 1 K. After his outing Bundy admitted that he was catching too much of the plate with his pitches, however keep in mind that’s why we’re playing these games. Given the Tillman situation, the Orioles are going to be relying on Bundy to be a sturdy part of the rotation moving forward. No pressure or anything…!

The O’s will return home to Ed Smith Stadium this afternoon to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Kevin Gausman will get the start, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Jeremy Hellickson. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

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