Time is running out before Opening Day for the injured Orioles to get themselves healthy enough to head north from Sarasota with the team. We have known since he reported to camp that Chris Tillman wouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster. Things are looking a bit better for Seth Smith and Ryan Flaherty.
Before Saturday’s spring training game against the Yankees, manager Buck Showalter sketched out some of the plan for Tillman’s rehab. The plan confirms what was already expected: Tillman will miss all of April at a minimum. He will be rehabbing his shoulder injury for most of the month in either extended spring training or minor league outings. The team has already circled five dates on the calendar for those.
It’s the first time that the team has come along with a revised timetable for Tillman since he received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder earlier in the week. Missing Tillman for all of April isn’t encouraging, but, if he’s able to get back shortly after that, things could have been worse.
Even while sketching out the plan, Showalter continued his pattern of not-very-reassuring statements:
Buck, encouraging news on Tillman? - “Well, if the first one goes bad (no), but feel good about this structurally."— Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) March 18, 2017
“Feel good structurally” has been the line even as Tillman has experienced setbacks. Now Orioles fans will just have to hold our breath and hope there are no more of those - or else, if there are, that the fill-in starter, whoever wins the competition, is able to be up to snuff.
Before getting into extended spring or minor league outings, Tillman still needs to work on his throwing progression to get game-ready. Long toss sessions await on Wednesday and Friday before the team determines whether Tillman is ready for a bullpen session. It was during long toss that he experienced discomfort that led to the cortisone injection.
Tillman’s situation is the biggest injury problem facing the O’s this spring. Other ones are getting better, at least. Showalter told reporters that both Smith and Flaherty are nearing returns.
Smith hasn’t played in a game since March 8 due to a hamstring problem. Flaherty has been off of the field for a few days with a shoulder problem the team suspects was brought on by overuse.
A third recovering Oriole is Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander, who the Orioles would probably prefer stay injured enough to be placed on the disabled list to start the season. Santander underwent an MRI arthrogram on his right elbow on Thursday. Today, he told reporters the MRI revealed no damage, just a little inflammation, which he said he had never experienced before.
Having seen the Orioles in action over the past several seasons, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this turn into something that the O’s milk for as much disabled list time as possible, giving Santander a chance to rehab at Double-A to gain a little experience before they try to throw him to the MLB wolves. Santander has never played above High-A before this season.
Here’s hoping for no more setbacks for the rest of spring training.