No news is good news in spring training and the Orioles, unfortunately, had some news on the first work day for pitchers and catchers in camp. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that Chris Tillman had a PRP injection in his shoulder in December and is not expected to be able to make the Opening Day start.
If this news makes you want to figuratively light your hair on fire and run around screaming, that’s an understandable reaction. Everyone is counting on Tillman being good for this season and now on the first day of spring training we learn that we should have had a question mark on him for two months. That is not the best way to get things started.
Showalter laid out a scenario where Tillman, who is about three weeks behind in being able to start his spring routine, could be placed on the disabled list to start the season but eligible to return on April 9. The Orioles early injury updates almost always prove to be optimistic rather than connected to reality.
We’ll see how that plays out with Tillman. He received the PRP injection after having spent time on the disabled list in 2016 with what was called right shoulder bursitis. To this observer, Tillman did not look like the best version of himself even after returning from the DL. That included the Wild Card game.
What’s certainly the case is that Tillman, after being the Opening Day starter for the past three seasons, will not be making the Opening Day start this year. Another thing that’s certain is that everything you assumed about the Orioles rotation is now thrown into disarray.
It could be worse for the Orioles. There was at least one team that had even worse news as its pitchers and catchers reported. The top Cardinals pitching prospect, Alex Reyes, one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, showed up, took his physical, and now it’s feared he’ll need Tommy John surgery.
Not a great way to start a season. But the Orioles aren’t much better off. Almost every hope for the season is pinned on improvement in the starting rotation and now one of their best starting pitchers is going to miss at least a little time, possibly more time. Here’s hoping that PRP injection made a difference.
That bad news out of the way, here’s a sampling of some of the more mundane stuff that happened in Sarasota today.
New catcher Welington Castillo:
Castillo has been the subject of some mild concern after he was announced as part of the Dominican Republic team for the World Baseball Classic. Will he have enough time during spring training to learn about his new pitching staff?
According to Orioles reporters, Castillo said that he has been in touch with Caleb Joseph to start to learn about the pitchers. As someone now on his fourth team since the start of 2015, Castillo is used to having to quickly get comfortable with a new group of pitchers.
Castillo, whose defensive skills have not always rated highly, also said that he traveled to Puerto Rico over the offseason to work with Jose Molina on some of his skills. If that work pays off in an Orioles uniform, that will be good news for the team.
The newest Orioles pitcher, Gabriel Ynoa, fielding a come-backer:
Ynoa, acquired from the Mets for cash on February 10, seems to have had his chances of making some big league starts improve greatly with the Tillman injury news.
Another player in that starter depth mix is lefty Jayson Aquino, who appeared in three games for the O’s last season after they brought him into the organization last April 7. MASN’s Roch Kubatko said that Aquino, who threw a bullpen session today, has been working on his breaking ball and that it showed in front of Dan Duquette this afternoon.
Getting excited over somebody’s improved offspeed offering on the first work day of spring training is probably not a good idea. But it’s something to keep an eye on that may eventually turn into a positive development.
A whole bunch of guys standing around and doing a little stretching:
Feel that spring training excitement. But it’s only the first real day of work. They’ll have six weeks to get themselves into game form for the regular season. That’s when it really starts to matter.