You could look at Chris Tillman’s start on Wednesday two different ways:
A disastrous first inning in which he faced nine batters and gave up three runs put the Orioles into a hole they couldn’t get out of in a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Or Tillman battled back from a terrible first to salvage the game for the Orioles, keeping it close for an offense that has gone to sleep the past two days.
He looked at it both ways.
“A little bit of everything early in the game,” Tillman said. “I couldn’t throw the ball where I wanted to early and every adjustment I tried to make I felt like it got worse. Later in the game was able to make an adjustment and able to make some better pitches.”
It wasn’t a smooth afternoon for Tillman, no question there. He allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks and needed 104 pitches to get through five innings.
It was a step backward after he looked like he was rounding into his old self with a quality start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.
But he is healthy – no problems with his right shoulder – and that’s always the most important aspect of Tillman’s starts this month.
“Definitely didn’t feel like a setback. Physically felt great, as good as I’ve felt in a long, long time. Just mechanically I was off, timing was off, tempo was off,” he said. “Positive I’m able to take from the game is I finished with three zeroes, I guess.”
Should there be concern? Maybe a little. But, as I’ve cautioned before, because he didn’t pitch during spring training, Tillman is basically in late April while most pitchers are in late May.
“I think about that. I do,” Showalter said. “I thought his stuff was good. As far as crispness and stuff. But he got into some counts where he had nothing there but the fastball and it kind of center-cut on him in the first inning. But then you see the other side of it the rest of the way. I have a lot of confidence that he’ll find it.”
Orioles claim Sardinas; Flaherty to Sarasota on Friday
The Orioles announced during Wednesday’s game that they claimed infielder Luis Sardinas off waivers from the San Diego Padres.
The 24-year-old Sardinas is a switch-hitter with defensive flexibility – he has played second base, shortstop, third base, first base and has even pitched two games – but is only a .229 hitter in 174 big league games over parts of four seasons. He was hitting .163 with eight singles in 49 at-bats for the Padres before he was waived.
He is now on the Orioles’ 40-man roster – they had an extra spot – but no 25-man roster move was announced. Sardinas does not have options, so he must pass through waivers before being sent to the minors. Showalter didn’t have much information on Sardinas or the club’s plans for him after the game.
“I know what I read in the media guide before I came down here,” Showalter said. “That’s to be continued, so I wouldn’t go too deep on the bio.”
The Orioles currently have veteran Paul Janish as their utility infielder and he is a favorite of Showalter’s for his consistent glove; Janish, however, is a .215 career hitter in parts of nine seasons.
Ryan Flaherty, who has been the Orioles’ primary utility infielder since 2012, had a platelet-rich-plasma injection in his right shoulder/lat Wednesday and will fly Friday to Sarasota, Fla., where he’ll do his rehab. He’ll be out several weeks.
Bourn free to go
The Orioles announced Wednesday that they have released outfielder Michael Bourn from his minor league contract and he is free to sign elsewhere.
The 34-year-old Bourn was a nice insurance policy to have at Triple-A Norfolk. He hit .283 with a .358 on-base percentage in 24 games with the Orioles last year after they acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Bourn exercised his opt-out Monday and the Orioles had 48 hours to decide whether to bring him up or let him go. They chose the latter.
Bourn can still play – though he hit just .220 with a .373 on-base percentage in 11 games for the Tides this year – but there just isn’t room for him in Baltimore right now. Not with Trey Mancini playing the outfield and Hyun Soo Kim, Joey Rickard and Mark Trumbo also in the corner outfield spots and Craig Gentry ahead of Bourn on the depth chart at Norfolk.
I’d imagine he’d go elsewhere, and look for a less crowded situation. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Bourn re-surfaced with the organization. They like his attitude, his defense and his speed.
“Mike’s an experienced outfielder that has some things to offer,” Showalter said. “But sometimes the clock runs out on you. To be continued, I hope.”
Sunday’s starter still unannounced
Showalter said Wednesday that he knows who his starting pitcher will be Sunday at the Houston Astros, but was waiting to see how Wednesday’s game progressed before committing.
It’s Ubaldo Jimenez’s spot, but the veteran right-hander has struggled mightily and the speculation is he may be sent to the bullpen with either lefty Jayson Aquino or righty Alec Asher getting the call.
Showalter twice had Jayson Aquino warming in the game but didn’t use him. Asher pitched two innings and threw 24 pitches, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude him from starting Sunday.
Afterward, Showalter wouldn’t show his hand.
“I haven’t committed to anything,” he said. “Right now, it’s Jimenez.”