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Tuesday Bird Droppings: A former Oriole is attempting a comeback

Five years after his last big league game, Chris Tillman is trying to work his way back to the majors.

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Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Hey, remember Chris Tillman? The tall right-hander spent his entire 10-year MLB career with the Orioles after they acquired him as a prospect from the Mariners in the 2008 Erik Bedard heist. Tillman debuted in 2009, broke out in 2012, and was a mainstay atop the solid O’s rotations during their winning stretch from 2012-2016. Tillman, though, collapsed along with his team in 2018, going 1-5 with a 10.46 ERA in seven starts for the dreadful 115-loss team that cost Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter their jobs.

After the O’s released Tillman that July, he latched on with the Rangers organization, hoping to work his way back to the bigs. But a 10.00 ERA in four starts at Triple-A Round Rock ended that experiment as well as, it seemed, his career.

Or maybe not. Five years removed, Tillman is looking to make a comeback, according to former O’s beat writer Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic:

Tillman’s been eyeing a return to baseball for a while, it seems. Ghiroli reported in May 2021 that he was working with Dave Wallace, his former Orioles pitching coach, after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2019. There apparently were no interested suitors that year or the next, and with every passing day a comeback becomes more and more unlikely. Topping out at 90 mph probably isn’t going to entice many suitors to take a chance on Tillman. A reunion with the O’s seems especially unlikely, as the Mike Elias regime arrived after Tillman’s departure from the Orioles and has no particular connection to him.

Still, best of luck to Tillman. He had some good times in Baltimore, and he’s still the most recent Orioles pitcher to start a postseason game, working 4.1 innings in the 2016 Wild Card Game in Toronto. If the 34-year-old Tillman manages to make it back to the majors this season, a half-decade after he last threw a professional pitch, it’d be one of the most fascinating comebacks in recent baseball history.


Information on next month’s Birdland Caravan - School of Roch
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Examining how public projections could, at least in part, explain the Orioles’ offseason - Maximizing Playoff Odds
Jon Meoli tries to make sense of the Orioles’ passive approach this winter. Better him than me.

When it comes to expected stats, Ryan Mountcastle had a big 2022 season - Steve Melewski
Melewski makes that case that Mountcastle was a much better hitter than the conventional stats showed in 2022. If Ryan is able to have some better luck in 2023, it could make a big difference for the Orioles lineup.

Orioles continue to play it safe as spring training approaches -
Rich Dubroff offers a guess that the Orioles will sign another veteran free agent for dirt cheap. I hear Chris Tillman is available!

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! It’s the 29th birthday of right-hander Rico Garcia, who appeared in six games for the Orioles last year. The O’s removed him from the roster in September and he’s currently in the Athletics organization. Also celebrating birthdays today are lefty Ariel Miranda (34) and righty Rick Bauer (46).

Jan. 10 is not a particularly pleasant day for the Orioles. It was on this date in 1991 that the O’s made the worst trade in franchise history, acquiring first baseman Glenn Davis from the Astros for three young players. The O’s thought Davis, a two-time All-Star and former NL MVP runner-up, was the slugger they needed to boost their lineup, but things went awry almost immediately. Davis suffered a neck injury in his first spring training and went on to miss significant time with health issues, averaging just 62 games a year during his three seasons in Baltimore, and showed nothing close to the power he’d flashed at the hitter-friendly Astrodome.

Meanwhile, the three youngsters the O’s traded for Davis — Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, and Pete Harnisch — combined to play 53 years in the majors, with all three becoming All-Stars and Schilling nearly a Hall of Famer. Yeah, it was not the Orioles’ finest hour.