SARASOTA, Fla. – Chris Tillman made such a huge improvement last season that it probably disappointed his fans when he couldn’t get out of the second inning on Wednesday night.
Tillman was the second Orioles starter of the day who reached his pitch limit in the second inning and couldn’t complete his assignment. Earlier in the day, Jake Arrieta failed to finish his second inning in the Orioles’ 10-7 split squad game with the New York Yankees.
It was Tillman’s first start of the spring. He was supposed to pitch on Tuesday, but the Orioles game against Pittsburgh was rained out.
Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Jason Hammel haven’t pitched yet, but Tillman was the first of Buck Showalter’s assumed starters to pitch.
Tillman allowed one hit and walked two in 1 2/3 innings before Showalter pulled the plug.
"First time out, I'm not really disappointed. I felt OK. Command was spotty at best. I guess you kind of expect it for first time out. Other than that, I felt pretty good," Tillman said.
With spring training seeming interminable due to the World Baseball Classic, Tillman probably still has more than five weeks until he has to pitch in a regular season game.
“It is a long spring, but it's all about getting ready for April. I try not to think about it that way. Just try to get my work in. Pitch when I'm told to pitch," Tillman said.
With the Red Sox in town, there was some heightened interest among the crowd. David Ortiz has yet to play and he left the team to deal with a personal matter in the Dominican Republic, but new manager John Farrell brought along a most representative team: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes.
Middlebrooks left early when he swung at the first pitch he saw from Tillman in the first inning. He injured the right wrist that was broken last August, but said later it was fine.
Tillman allowed a single to Pedroia in the first, and then after he walked Daniel Nava, he was replaced by Daniel Schlereth.
“I was trying to work on my fastball command early. That's what it's all about the first time out. Mixed up my pitches. Fastball, changeup are there. Breaking stuff's not where it needs to be right now, but it's typical early in spring," Tillman said.
Schlereth allowed a run in the third, and Zach Britton, making his second appearance after one scoreless inning to start the exhibition season last Saturday, gave up a home run to Gomes in the fourth.
With the Orioles playing two games, the starters played a little longer than they have so far. Minor leaguer Buck Britton, Zach’s older brother, played the late innings of both games.
NOTES: Showalter said that Adam Jones will play his last game on Friday before leaving to join the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic.
-Tsuyoshi Wada will throw his next bullpen session on Friday, Showalter said.
-The Orioles play Minnesota at Fort Myers on Thursday. Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hunter and Kevin Gausman will pitch for the Orioles. Liam Hendriks, Alex Burnett, Casey Fien, Cole De Vries, Esmerling Vasquez and Trevor May are scheduled for Minnesota.