Tillman won't make next start for Orioles
Off-days allow Baltimore to skip right-hander's turn
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Orioles announced Tuesday that they will skip starter Chris Tillman's next scheduled turn in the rotation, using Thursday and Monday's off-days to offset the shorter turn and put the young right-hander temporarily in the bullpen.
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The O's won't need a fifth starter until June 26 versus the Washington Nationals, a game that pitching coach Rick Kranitz said both Tillman and Brad Bergesen will be considered for.
Bergesen went 3-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 starts before being moved to the big league bullpen, which was also on a temporary basis. He was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday, with the O's organization citing Bergesen's best interests -- as well as the Orioles' -- would be to get the right-hander back on track as a starter.When asked if Tillman's situation could mirror Bergesen's -- who was only needed twice in relief before being sent to Norfolk -- Kranitz agreed that it could be a similar scenario. "You have to do what's right for the player," Krantiz said. "And [Tillman] needs to pitch." "He's not going to sit in the bullpen for us here, and that decision [of whether to send him to Triple-A] will obviously be made when we get back to Baltimore, you know? But even if he throws great out of the bullpen, he's a starter. He's only 22. I just want everybody to not lose sight of that. Some guys it may take a little more time, that's all. That's OK." For now, the move to put Tillman in the bullpen is one that both Kranitz and interim manager Juan Samuel said is more out of necessity. Tillman allowed six earned runs over two innings in Monday's loss to the Giants, leaving the Orioles bullpen depleted for Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. While Tillman figures to be available only in an emergency situation until Friday, Samuel said the team would rather have an extra arm than a bat for Interleague Play. "We have Mark Hendrickson as a long guy and we'd like to have somebody from the right side," Samuel said prior to Tuesday's game. "That's how the decision ultimately came down. Instead of bringing a bat up here that we do not really need for now, it would be better to have [Tillman] out there." Both Samuel and Kranitz reiterated that Tillman will be a starter long term with the organization and the move to the bullpen figures to only be for the remainder of the Orioles' six-game West Coast trip. Given the Orioles' pair of off-days, Kranitz said the move was already being considered prior to Monday's game. "I didn't want to have guys take seven days off in between starts," he said. "[Skipping Tillman] sets them up, plus you got to look and see who guys are going to be facing down the road. And for him to just go to the bullpen for the time being, [we will] have another starter ready to go [for the 26th], and we will make the decision at the time who will make it." Tillman's dropped to 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA with Monday's abbreviated outing, marking the second time in four starts that he has failed to make it to the third inning. The 22-year-old's lack of velocity -- he didn't break 90 mph -- was particularly frustrating. Samuel said the key for Tillman, who can top out at 94 mph, will be to come out throwing hard and establish his fastball. "Talking to some of the people that had him in the Minor Leagues, they said that he kind of eases his way into it and then later in the game, he starts adding velocity," Samuel said. "We need to have it the other way around. I think he needs to pitch with more conviction. He needs to get in there and move those hitters, make them move their feet." Given Tillman's tendency to start at a slower tempo, Kranitz said it will be interesting to see how the right-hander reacts to the 'pen, particularly concerning his velocity. "He's always had it in there [to get up to 94 mph]; he's shown it, but it's always been a little bit later in the game," Kranitz said. "But this is the big leagues. ... They don't seem to wait." Without Tillman, the rest of the O's rotation order will remain the same. Tuesday's starter, Jake Arrieta, will throw Sunday's finale in San Diego, with Wednesday's starter Jeremy Guthrie slated for the O's home opener against the Marlins on June 22.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.