Tillman on bullpen demotion: 'I understand. I'm not mad. I just need to get better.' - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Tillman on bullpen demotion: ‘I understand. I’m not mad. I just need to get better.’

The next time right-hander Chris Tillman enters a game for the Orioles it will be his first major league appearance as a reliever after 194 starts in the big leagues.

The way he was pitching – an 8.10 ERA in 15 starts – he knew his days in the rotation were likely numbered. That was confirmed after talking with manager Buck Showalter – which he said was not a pleasant conversation, but one that was looming.

“It’s not easy. I’ve never seen myself in that spot, but you know what? I haven’t been pitching well enough. I understand. I’m not mad. I just need to get better,” Tillman said. “I’m not going to go down there and mope around. I’m going to go down there for one reason, and one reason only, and that’s to get better and get back to being who I know I can be. It hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s not gone. I just need to get back to it.”

Tillman, 29, hasn’t pitched in relief since one outing for Triple-A Norfolk in 2012. Before that, he hasn’t been a reliever since 2006, his first year as a professional when he made five relief appearances in rookie ball in the Seattle Mariners’ organization.

“I’ve never done so before. I’m going to do this to the best of my ability to be ready. I know I can be ready,” he said. “I don’t know what the adjustment period is going to be like for now. I’ve got a lot of guys here that can help me, walk me through it. There’s a lot of guys who have been starters out there.”

Tillman said he’s talked with both Ubaldo Jimenez and Zach Britton about the transitions they’ve made from rotation to relief. Jimenez has done it several times with the Orioles, and usually seems to be better when he re-enters the rotation.

Showalter said that’s the hope for Tillman.

“Chris is the ultimate, ‘What’s-best-for-the-team’ guy. Believe me, you may not always see it, he wears it. It bothers him,” Showalter said. “He wants what’s best for the team. Like I said when we put Ubaldo down there, I’ll bet you that we’re gonna have a need, and Chris is gonna be ready to serve it.”

Tillman, who last started Thursday, said he is ready to pitch Sunday if needed. He’s not sure what will occur, but he feels like he can adapt to being a reliever for now. And that he can still contribute for this team in 2017. He’s not sure what Showalter has in mind for his first outing, but assumes the manager has already worked out several scenarios.


“There’s always a method to his madness. He never just kind of throws you out there to the dogs,” Tillman said. “He normally has an idea and a plan as to what he wants to do. So, I’m assuming there’s something. I haven’t heard anything.”



  1. Mau

    August 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Really hope he can find his groove again. I agree with the previous post re: re-signing Tillman. O’s need arms and his is a solid one, albeit not at the moment. Also, you reward service. He’s done well for the O’s more often than not. That being said, if he stinks it up again next year, send him to the booth.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 6, 2017 at 11:41 pm

      Oh gosh. Can’t imagine Tillman as an announcer. Great sense of humor. But ridiculously dry. And very soft spoken.

      • Mau

        August 7, 2017 at 8:21 am

        I like dry humor and if he doesn’t bleat like Vitale and offers intelligent commentary I don’t mind turning up the volume. In reality I’d like to see him pitch like he’s capable of.

  2. Osfan73

    August 6, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    After reading your Aug 5th column on re-signing Tillman for next year despite his struggles this year, I basically was like yeah do it because he’s been durable, dependable and at least we know what we have, plus an upcoming weak FA market for this winter. However I still found myself feeling a little, just a little uneasy about keeping him here for next year.
    But, after reading some of his quotes and reaction to being removed from the rotation I’ve become convinced we keep him around, here’s why IMO…
    He’s being totally professional about it rather than acting like it’s some kind of personal slight against him. By NOT acting like a headcase with a big ego, as a lot of athletes tend to do at their highest levels, he’s showing maturity and dedication to the team. And that is exactly the type of player and presence you want/need on a team. With that attitude I feel sure this stint in the bullpen will help him.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 6, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      The guy.’said attitude has never wavered. To be fair, he’s not alone. Miley and Jimenez and Gausman have been very professional through their tough times.

  3. LenSakata

    August 6, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    How are the O’s going to make room on the 25-man roster for the 4 players coming off the DL soon?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      I’ve been wondering the same. Good bet that Gentry is a short timer since they’ll lose Santander if he’s not on the active 25. Tejada’s presence is tenuous unless … as much as I hate to see it, they let Flaherty walk. Donnie Hart may be sent down …and beyond that … I”d rather not think about it.

      • woody

        August 6, 2017 at 8:40 pm

        Tejada, Gentry, Hart will all go down. Not sure they’ll need the 4th as I think they’ll spell Hardy in rehab for a couple of weeks – but if they did the 4th will either be a DL that hasn’t happened yet or one of Bleier/Castro if they happen to have pitched a long stint the day before. With you on Flaherty, Boog. People expect you to post the same numbers being a utility playing once a week? Just look at Caleb’s numbers this year vs last…

    • Dan Connolly

      August 6, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      I try not to speculate on guys’ job status. Nothing good comes from it. But I think they definitely drop a pitcher from the bullpen when Flaherty comes back later this upcoming week.

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