BALTIMORE -- Even if starter Kevin Millwood -- who leads the American League with 15 losses -- doesn't record another winning decision for the Orioles this year, he's done what the organization envisioned when it traded for him this offseason.
"He is very definitely a positive influence on our young starters," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said of Millwood (3-15), who is one of the most well-liked and respected players inside the Orioles' clubhouse.
"As we were packing up to go back [from Anaheim], he was getting on [Brad] Bergesen for giving up a run and messing up the three shutouts in a row," MacPhail said. "[Millwood was] telling him he needed to work on his fundamentals, [because] he should have allowed no runs."
While Millwood's performance has dipped considerably following a 3.38 ERA in his first five starts -- including a stretch of nine starts in June and July where his ERA was 9.33 -- he has averaged more than six innings per outing and never complained despite a season-long lack of offensive support. Millwood has pitched 165 2/3 innings over 27 starts and, according to MacPhail, he will remain in the Orioles' rotation for the foreseeable future.
"We are going to have some innings issues with some of our younger starters," MacPhail said of an Orioles rotation that will try to stretch things out by going with six starters at least one time through. "I think still having that veteran presence Millwood has talked about ... we are going to need all of our starters."
Manager Buck Showalter, who was with Millwood in Texas and golfs with him in the offseason, said he feels for the veteran, who is marred in the worst season of his 14-year career.
"There was a lot of games, especially early in the year, that he deserved to win," Showalter said of Millwood, who has recieved just 60 runs total of support in 27 games while on the hill. "But Kevin's got a grip on reality, and [he knows] you can only do the things you can do."
"He kept us in the ballgame [on Friday] night," Showalter said of Millwood's 5 2/3 innings of four-run baseball, which resulted in a 4-1 loss to the Rays. "It might not have been aesthetically pleasing at times, but the body of work was -- he's capable of better -- but he kept us in a position [to win]."
It remains to be seen whether Millwood, who will be a free agent this winter, will pitch again in Baltimore beyond this season. Although his tendency to eat innings makes him attractive to youth-laden rotations like the O's, Millwood could opt to finish his career in a more pitcher-friendly locale. A fierce competitor who takes pride in going deep into the game, Millwood will pitch in 2011, as long as there is interest.
"Kevin's a pro. And from that perspective, it's tough to see guys that handle themselves the way Kevin [does] go through the struggles, statistically, that he has," Showalter said. "We all know he's better than that."
Showalter 64th to win 900 games as manager
BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter became the 64th manager in Major League history to reach the 900-win mark with Saturday's 8-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I've had a lot of losses, too," Showalter said of the accolade. "I remember just about every one of those. Just reminds you how lucky you are to do this, to have a chance to do it."
Showalter said his daughter called him several days ago to make him aware of the pending accomplishment, although given that the Orioles had lost their previous three games, he admitted to forgetting about it a little bit.
When asked what victory No. 900 means to him, Showalter said: "It means I've had some good players and someone's given me an opportunity to do this a long time. That's about the extent of it."
"I've got 500 more to go," Rays manager Joe Maddon marveled from the visitors' clubhouse. "Buck's done it for a long time. He's very good at what he does. He's going to be around for many more years. He's a very young man."
Saturday's win also improved the Orioles to 18-13 under Showalter, which surpasses the 2010 win total of Baltimore's first two managers, Dave Trembley (15-39) and Juan Samuel (17-34).
Tillman has chance to impress Showalter
BALTIMORE -- Chris Tillman is ready for a fresh start.
And come Sunday, he will get just that, as the 22-year-old right-hander will make his first outing in front of Orioles manager Buck Showalter as the new skipper continues to evaluate the organization with an eye on next year.
"It feels good to be back," said Tillman, who made a combined six starts in two stints in the Majors this season, going 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA.
"I don't think [this season] was a step back at all," Tillman said despite his inconsistent, and often ineffective, outings in Baltimore. "I don't think it was a step forward, but at the same time, I think I learned a lot. ... It's been a roller-coaster year -- up and down. In the long run, I think it's going to be good for me."
Showalter has seen tape of Tillman pitching and kept an eye on his outings at Triple-A Norfolk, in which Tillman went 11-7 with a 3.34 ERA in 21 starts. Asked if he thought Tillman would try to audition for a role next season -- much in the same way the Orioles' other young arms have -- Showalter responded: "I hope so."
"But he's got to play between the lines," Showalter said of Tillman, who will face a Rays team in the thick of a pennant race in Sunday's start. "I am not going to throw out some of his good outings this year. He is coming off a good one down below [for Norfolk]. A lot of people here I respect think that I need to get a look at him."
Tillman, who kept in frequent contact with his Orioles teammates while at Norfolk, said he had been hearing nothing but positive reports about Showalter, and he was excited to show his new manager what he can do.
Although the Orioles will go to a six-man rotation for the foreseeable future, the uncertain schedule isn't as big of a deal as staying mentally sharp, something Tillman had to learn the hard way.
"Coming from up here and going down there [to Norfolk], being able to get yourself up and psyched for the game, it was tough," Tillman said. "I had to work hard it at. The first three or four starts went bad, but I got dialed in, and everything's been good since then."
Jones likely won't return until Monday
BALTIMORE -- Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was out of Saturday's lineup, and he acknowledged that "the reality" of his return date is looking to be Monday's series opener in New York.
Jones exited Wednesday's game prior to his seventh-inning at-bat, and he received a cortisone injection in his left shoulder prior to Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Red Sox.
On Saturday, manager Buck Showalter echoed Jones, saying that the team would most likely be without the outfielder's services for the final two games of the homestand.
"But [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] was really upbeat about the progress he is making," Showalter said. "It has been a lot faster than the last time."
Jones was also pleased about the initial effects of his injection, and he said on Saturday that he was feeling better. Although frustrated that he has been sidelined for the better part of the past two weeks -- with the plunking from Gavin Floyd on Aug. 24 causing him to miss the following five games -- Jones said he understood the team exercising caution and patience. But he doesn't particularly enjoy his new spot on the bench.
"He is not a real good spectator," Showalter said of Jones. "He moves around a lot around on the bench. ... He is in and out, back and forth. He is in the game. I have asked him a couple questions. ... He is locked in."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.