TORONTO—After a 10.46 ERA in seven starts with the Orioles, and an uninspiring rehab stint, the likely end of Chris Tillman’s time in Baltimore came Friday when he was designated for assignment.
Tillman had been on the 10-day disabled list since May 11 and after he spent the maximum 30 days in rehab, the Orioles decided he couldn’t help them now.
“We’re going to turn our attention to the younger players with the new direction of the club,” Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said.
“We offered Chris the opportunity to stay in the organization, and he’s considering it.”
The Orioles are paying Tillman $3 million this season, and he could choose to continue playing at Triple-A Norfolk.
In Tillman’s six rehab starts, he had a 6.75 ERA at Aberdeen, Delmarva, Frederick and Norfolk.
“There were some good things. There were some challenging things,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“It didn’t show that at the stage we were, he was showing enough things there that warrant taking [Tillman over Yefry Ramirez or Jimmy] Yacabonis.
“Talking with all the people that were with him through his rehab starts, we just thought this was the best direction to go, and I agree with it.”
From 2012-16, Tillman was a most dependable starter with a sterling 65-33 record. For a time, he had a winning percentage that was one of the best in club history.
But in 2017 and 2018, Tillman lost 10 of 12 decisions and had clearly lost what propelled him to those excellent records in the Orioles’ glory years.
“This guy was our ace pitcher and over the last two years, he hasn’t been able to return to that form, and we’re going to go in another direction,” Duquette said.
Showalter said that he, pitching coach Roger McDowell and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel tried to call Tillman Friday, but he wasn’t in the mood to talk.
“He’s got decisions to make, and I’m hoping it includes us,” Showalter said. “I’d still like to continue down that road.”
Tillman and Adam Jones came to the Orioles in one of the best trades in team history. That February 2008 deal set the team up for years of success.
“It’s kind of a changing of the guard if you think about where we are now,” Zach Britton said. “We had a couple of good runs. We didn’t get as far as we wanted to a couple of those years. It’s kind of a new era. Hopefully, Tilly can get back to that level of performance he wants to get to. Maybe he’ll stay in Norfolk.”