In his bullpen session a couple of days before last night's start, Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman worked with Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin on adding a new pitch to his repertoire – a two-seam fastball.
Tillman threw about four of them during last night's outing in which he surrendered three runs (all on solo homers), six hits and two walks while striking out seven Charlotte batters over 6 2/3 innings. None of them were for strikes, but Tillman said that he was satisfied with the movement that he was getting on the pitch.
"The first game out, I was just trying to get it to move and I was missing down and away," said Tillman who has allowed four earned runs in 12 2/3 innings since his demotion back to Norfolk. "But I can see the potential there. I need to build confidence in it. I'm still playing with some grips."
Tillman's four-seam fastball tends to be extremely straight, and team officials have encouraged him to use a cut fastball or try to throw a two-seamer, which gets downward movement when thrown correctly. Tillman said he threw about seven cutters last night, but both the cutter – and the two-seamer – are works in progress.
"My [four-seam] fastball is fine when I locate it," Tillman said. "But my two seamer will help me get away with more, especially when my velocity is up."
Tillman, who was struggling to break 90 miles per hour in his last outing with the Orioles against San Francisco before he was sent down with an 8.40 ERA, said he looked up at the scoreboard a couple of times last night and noticed he hit 93 and 94 on occasion. He reiterated that his velocity issues were more a result of him thinking too much, rather than focusing on making quality pitches.
In other Triple-A Norfolk news, outfielder Nolan Reimold didn't play last night and could miss a few games as he deals with a family matter, according to a team official.
The bad news for the Orioles is that their second pick in this month's draft, UCLA right-handed pitcher Dan Klein, gave up the game-winning hit in South Carolina's College World Series-clinching victory over the Bruins on Tuesday night. Whit Merrifield's RBI single in the 11th inning produced a 2-1 victory for South Carolina and the school's first national baseball championship.
The good news is Klein, the Bruins closer who the Orioles drafted as a starter, otherwise pitched well in the game, allowing one earned run on one hit and two walks while striking out four over 3 1/3 innings.
And now that UCLA's season is over, the Orioles can work on agreeing to terms with Klein and the other two Bruins that they drafted - left-handed pitcher Matthew Drummond in the 20th round and outfielder Blair Dunlap in the 43rd round.
It sounds like Klein won't be too difficult of a sign, which bodes well for getting this done quickly.