MINNEAPOLIS — Despite watching a pair of head-shaking starts from Chris Tillman and Zach Britton the past two nights, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he's confident the 24-year-old pitchers can contribute at the major league level now.
"It's not like they've never had success," Showalter said before Wednesday night's game. "Look around baseball, there are a lot of young pitchers who are up and down. … Try to keep in mind, we're looking at guys just starting to make an impact at 26, 27. Keep in mind that Tilly and Britton are still 24. And a lot of guys don't evolve into what they're capable of being until later. It's not for the impatient. We've got to make some adjustments along the way."
Showalter said he spoke at length Wednesday with the organization's pitching development coordinator, Rick Peterson, who worked with both Tillman and Britton on their mechanics in the minors. In recent days, Showalter had said that mechanical adjustments alone don't equal success.
"Just trying to pick his brain about some things," Showalter said of his conversation with Peterson. "We talked about that, that there's a lot of things that go into it. But you gain a lot of confidence by having a good delivery and mechanics. You can get yourself back on task, but the baseball rules don't allow a pitching coach to go out there after every pitch. Guys have to be their own pitching coach out there a little bit, too. I think Tilly and Britton will both pitch better as we go forward."
On Monday night, Tillman lasted just 2/3 of an inning, allowing seven runs, though six were unearned. Britton issued a career-high six walks Tuesday and wasn't able to get an out in the fifth inning.
Showalter also spoke with Britton at length in his office before Wednesday's game.
"He's in a good frame of mind, he's going to be alright," Showalter said. "Every sport has a jump in levels of play. There are a lot of things that if you do well there, play well up here. We were looking at a stat, when Zach is down in the strike zone, the opponent's batting average is like .160, .165 off him. That plays anywhere."
Both Tillman and Britton will likely get at least two more starts at the major league level.
Bergesen designated for assignment
Just one day after purchasing his contract from Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles designated right-handed Brad Bergesen for assignment so they could recall Wednesday's starter, right-hander Tommy Hunter.
"This one came as a surprise because I know that the bullpen's been a little depleted, and so I just know they needed some innings chewed up if a game got out of control or what not," Bergesen said while packing his bag for a flight back to Norfolk. "But at the same time, they had to make a move for Tommy, and I was the odd man out."
The club purchased Bergesen's contract before Tuesday's game to provide depth to a bullpen that has accounted for 62 percent of the team's innings in five games since the All-Star break.
This is the second time the 26-year-old Bergesen has been designated for assignment this season. Bergesen has one option remaining, but the team chose to designate him for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster (which hasn't yet been filled). If he clears waivers, he can be optioned back to Norfolk.
“It's obviously been a little crazy around here,” Bergesen said. “It's been like a revolving door. Even though I'm getting sent down, it's a great organization to be in because there are a lot of opportunities. I'll get down there and get back to my routine as much as possible and try to get back here quickly.”
Orioles win an extra draft pick
The Orioles received the fourth pick awarded in Wednesday's Competitive Balance Lottery, a new initiative from the latest collective bargaining agreement aimed at helping small-market and small-revenue franchises.
The Orioles were one of 13 teams eligible for the lottery, which awards extra picks in June's first-year player draft.
The first six additional picks awarded will be made after the first round and free-agent compensation picks. The Royals got the first such pick, followed by the Pirates, Diamondbacks and Orioles.
The eligible teams that did not receive any of the first six picks were entered into a second lottery that awarded six more picks to come after the second round.
The Orioles, Diamondbacks, Reds, Indians, Rockies, Royals, Marlins, Brewers, A's, Pirates, Cardinals, Padres and Rays were eligible for the lottery. The Tigers were added to the pool of teams eligible for the second round of picks.
Around the horn
With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, Showalter said he hasn't been talking to executive vice president Dan Duquette on a daily basis. "When it gets to the point where something's getting ready to happen … we certainly talk in exact terms," Showalter said. "He doesn't have to tell me everything." … Second baseman Brian Roberts went through a light workout Wednesday at the team's complex in Sarasota, Fla., to test his injured hip before deciding whether to opt for season-ending surgery. "I think the idea is for him to go to the facility and get some exercise and get a feel for where it is so he can make a decision," Showalter said. … Second baseman Robert Andino (left shoulder strain) has yet to travel to Sarasota to begin rehab. He's still resting in Baltimore. ... Steve Johnson allowed just one run on three hits over six innings with two strikeouts and one walk on Wednesday in his first start for Triple-A Norfok after making his major league debut Sunday and being optioned back to the Tides.