After throwing 62 pitches over four innings against Orioles minor leaguers Sunday, right-hander Chris Tillman said he could have continued to add to his pitch count, and still thinks he will be ready for the regular season.
“It went really good,” Tillman said. “It went well. I got to work on everything. Everything was there. Command was really good. I’m really happy with it.
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“I feel like I’m ready to go. I asked [Orioles pitching coach] Rick [Adair] if I could get up a time or two more yesterday and he said no, obviously trying to protect me. I would have liked to. I felt good. I definitely had plenty left in the tank to get back out there.”
The Orioles have been cautious with Tillman, who is recovering from abdominal soreness that prompted him to be scratched from a start March 9. While other Orioles starters are reaching the six-inning, 80-pitch plateau, Tillman is slightly behind in his spring progress.
By pitching Tillman in non-Grapefruit League games -- his final start will take place in a Friday exhibition against the State College of Florida -- it allowed the team to backdate any possible DL stint for a quick return.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t think there’s any number of set number of pitches that’s going to make you ready for Opening Day,” Tillman said. “I think it’s more so up and down. The more times you get up and down, that’s what the harder part is for me. That’s how it is for me. The pitches really don’t have anything to do with it.
“We’re all athletic enough. We’re all in shape. We could all go out there and throw 120 pitches whenever we want to, to be honest with you, it’s more the number of times you get up and down, that kind of thing."
Tillman has made just two Grapefruit League appearances this spring, and he hasn’t pitched in a big league game since March 3, so he would head into his first start of the season without having faced major league hitters in more than a month.
“A couple of my starts down against the Twin Lakes teams, I think I faced some decent hitters and guys who I’ve seen in the big leagues for years,” Tillman said. “Those are guys who will let you know what you need to work on and what you don’t need to work on, too. I think personally, I know from last year in my bullpens what I need to do and which direction I need to go in. It’s nice to go out there and feel what it’s like to pitch against a major league team again, but I don’t think it’s an end all.”