Although Chris Tillman’s shoulder is going to be one of the biggest concerns in Orioles camp until it’s either resolved or something worse comes along to supplant it, there are other players with dings and dents who are working their way back. There was good news about a couple of these on Tuesday, though several walking wounded remain.
A trio of Orioles who had missed some time in spring were in action. J.J. Hardy played for a second straight day with no problems. Zach Britton, who had been dealing with a sore oblique muscle, saw game action and was fine physically. There’s also Chris Davis, who was battling bronchitis for several days and finally got back into the lineup. That’s all good news.
Even the biggest one to worry about, Tillman, is possibly getting back to a better place. Manager Buck Showalter spoke to Orioles reporters about Tillman prior to Tuesday’s game:
“Yesterday it was better than the day before and today he said it was better than yesterday. Will talk with Richie (Bancells) and the doctors and see if we want to throw again or what they want to do. It’s going to be a conversation at the end of the day, decide what we want to do tomorrow. I’m hoping he might get back on the mound again, but we’ll see.”
There’s a lot of hope there and not a lot of concrete discussion of what the problem was and when it might resolve well enough to have Tillman throwing again. If by chance they decide tomorrow to have him throw on Thursday and all is well, then he hasn’t been set too far back. I would not want to have my life savings riding on that outcome.
Showalter repeated a not-very-reassuring quote from yesterday, telling reporters again today, “I think eventually he’s going to be pitching for us.” The Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina noted that if Tillman’s soreness doesn’t quiet down, the next step would seem to be a cortisone injection, with hope of having Tillman back by early May.
One of the possible Tillman replacements, Tyler Wilson, got into Tuesday’s 9-6 loss at the hands of a Rays split squad. Things didn’t go well for him today, with Wilson allowing four runs on four hits and a walk in only two innings of work. Things haven’t been going well for him lately. The stats don’t count yet, but spring results will probably factor in to what decision the O’s make.
The results weren’t great for Britton either in his first outing, with Britton giving up two runs on four hits. Still, if you look at the GameDay box score, every one of the base hits was a ground ball. If Britton keeps getting tons of ground balls, that will work itself out just fine in the regular season - and this was, after all, his first game action.
And speaking of bad results, let’s not leave out starting pitcher Wade Miley giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings of work. Miley wasn’t helped by his defense at times, with right fielder Trey Mancini (yes, really) bungling one play to make a situation worse. None of the hits were for extra bases. They just singled Miley into oblivion.
In the still-ailing Oriole category, Ryan Flaherty was out of the lineup again. Flaherty has been playing a lot during spring training with Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop off playing in the World Baseball Classic and with Hardy having been hurt until recently. According to Showalter, this led to some shoulder soreness, “from probably overuse,” and Flaherty received a cortisone injection.
Outfielder Seth Smith is still recovering from a hamstring issue. Smith hasn’t played in a game since March 8. Showalter said that he thinks Smith’s return is right around the corner, but the team isn’t in a rush about it.
There are still 20 days remaining until Opening Day, so there’s time for the ailing players to recover and get themselves into game shape before things start to count, but we’re running out of time where that excuse can still be made.