For a lot of Orioles spring training, the only news that there has been about Chris Tillman was bad news. Everything seemed to be some kind of setback. Towards the end of spring, that trend is finally reversing, as manager Buck Showalter told reporters before Wednesday’s game against the Rays that Tillman, after long toss sessions on Sunday and Tuesday, is progressing on towards bullpen sessions starting on Saturday.
The next phase of Tillman’s progression will be a trio of bullpens. Following after Saturday will be sessions on Monday - Opening Day - and Wednesday in Baltimore. If everything still is going well for him, then he will head down to Sarasota to continue his rehab, with a live batting practice session scheduled for April 8 and an extended spring training game on April 11.
Previously, Tillman didn’t even get past the long toss step before ending up needing to have a cortisone injection to calm down his ailing shoulder. That setback was when it became clear that Tillman would be missing at least the whole month of April.
All of this stems from the original shoulder problem, perhaps dating to last season, that led to Tillman getting a platelet-rich plasma injection in his shoulder back in December.
Maybe, if all keeps going well, he won’t miss much more than that. Showalter didn’t offer a more long-term timetable for Tillman beyond extended spring training. Absent any other developments, hopefully he can stick to not missing much more than April. If the Orioles are lucky, he’ll look like he did before his disabled list trip last season.
The shoulder problem has meant that Tillman hasn’t been able to do the usual ramp-up during spring training. He only really got on track with his throwing last week, so another month to build up his arm strength and get to where he’s ready to pitch a full workload every five games.
Tillman’s not the only starter with the O’s where there are concerns. Wade Miley’s status is still not fully settled, either. Another day offered no additional clarity. Miley told reporters that he feels good today after pitching an expected four innings yesterday.
Miley may still end up as either the third starter, the fourth starter, or a disabled list starter. His spring was set back by what was being called the flu yesterday and is today deemed an upper-respiratory infection. There are only five days left until Opening Day. They’re running out of time to figure this all out.