What’s happening: Right-hander Chris Tillman was supposed to pitch for the Orioles for the first time this spring March 17. It won’t happen.
Tillman had a subpar bullpen session Wednesday, and the Orioles blamed it on an antibiotic he was taking. They thought it caused joint pain. Giving Tillman an extra day to get the drug out of his system, they scheduled another bullpen for him Sunday.
But after 10 long tosses, before pitching from the mound, Tillman’s bullpen session was scrapped because he is still feeling discomfort in his right shoulder. And now the Orioles are exploring their options with Tillman, and options for another starter.
“It’s discouraging for Chris, I know,” manager Buck Showalter said before Sunday’s game. “(Tillman) being one of our five starters at the start of the season is in jeopardy.”
After the game, Showalter amended his forecast, and said that Tillman was “doubtful” for the beginning of the season.
The Orioles have several internal options to step in for Tillman: right-handers Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson and Gabriel Ynoa and left-handers Jayson Aquino and Chris Lee.
They could also scour the free agent market for a veteran, and there are several still available: Doug Fister, Edwin Jackson, Tim Lincecum, Colby Lewis and Jake Peavy. Fister, in particular, has intrigued the Orioles in the past.
In more positive injury news, closer Zach Britton should be ready to pitch, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. He’s been held out because of left oblique discomfort. Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has yet to play because of back spasms, appears ready to go.
“J.J. looks good. It’s just a matter of when he feels comfortable playing in a game,” Showalter said. “He’s feeling better.”
Chris Davis has not played the last three games due to bronchitis. Seth Smith missed Saturday’s game with a right hamstring injury.
Chris Dickerson was hit by a pitch just above his left elbow in the third inning and left Sunday’s game.
What’s happened: Dylan Bundy was tagged for five runs in two innings Sunday. The Orioles had hoped their starters would complete four innings, but none of the first three who’ve tried have recorded an out in the fourth.
Ubaldo Jimenez left after one batter in the fourth Friday night. Mike Wright could complete only 2 2/3 innings Saturday, and now Bundy.
“It’s disappointing, especially since I went three the last one. Got the pitch count up, don’t know what it was,” Bundy said. “It was up there. Threw more sliders today. Other than that, felt good.”
Sunday was a home run happy day at CenturyLInks Field in Fort Myers, where Byron Buxton hit a leadoff home run and Jorge Polanco had a second inning grand slam.
The Orioles hit three home runs. Trey Mancini hit his first of the spring, Craig Gentry, who has four in his major league career, hit his second of the week, and Rule 5 draft choice Anthony Santander hit his second in two days.
What’s up with: Chris Lee. The left-handed prospect, who missed much of the 2016 season because of a lat/shoulder injury, has allowed two runs on five hits in eight innings.
“I’ll tell you, Chris Lee has been real impressive down here. He’s had like three outings as good as you’d want to see down here,” Showalter said.
What they’re saying: “We’ll see what direction Chris goes. I know it’s a big year for Chris on a lot of fronts.” — Showalter with a reminder that Tillman is a free agent and a lengthy injury could cost him financially.
What’s the number? — $3.5 million. That’s the amount of incentives in Pedro Alvarez’s minor league contract. Alvarez will receive $250,000 each for 200, 250, 300 and 350 plate appearances. He gets $500,000 each for 400, 450, 500, 550 and 600 plate appearances.
Last year, Alvarez, who is expected to take a physical today, had 376 plate appearances for the Orioles. He’s exceeded 600 plate appearances only in 2013.
What’s the record? — 9-6-1. The Orioles have won six of their last seven Grapefruit League games. They beat the Minnesota Twins, 8-6, Sunday.
They’ll play their next five games within 20 minutes of Sarasota. They’ll host Philadelphia today with Kevin Gausman facing Jeremy Hellickson.