When Chris Tillman arrived at spring training last year, it was widely assumed that he was going to be the team's fifth starter. However, he was out-pitched by David Hernandez and Jason Berken, who both made the Orioles' Opening Day roster while Tillman started the 2010 campaign with Triple-A Norfolk.
This spring, Tillman enters camp as a decided underdog to make the team after the club's acquisition of talented but injury-prone Justin Duchscherer. However, Tillman's mindset hasn't changed.
"I think I'm in the same boat as last year," he said today as he joined teammates Brian Matusz, Jeremy Guthrie and Matt Wieters in the clubhouse on reporting day. "I think this year has been a little more public. I'm excited. I think I put myself in a good spot, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Tillman, who went 2-5 with a 5.87 ERA in 11 starts for the Orioles and 11-7 with a 3.34 ERA in 21 starts for Triple-A Norfolk, said he exchanged texts with Guthrie after learning of the Duchscherer signing. Before the addition, it was believed that Tillman was the front-runner for the fifth starter spot in a competition that would also include Rick VandenHurk and Zach Britton.
"Me and Jeremy were texting each other, and he just said, 'You've been working hard in the offseason, and you put yourself in a great spot to do it.' That's all you can really do. I'm confident that I did my job in the offseason," Tillman said.
Tillman spent the offseason working out at Athletes' Performance Institute in Los Angeles. He acknowledged it's really the first time he has been on a strict workout program.
"I think I'm very prepared for spring training," he said. "I put myself in a good spot in the offseason to get ready for spring training and the rest of the season. You walk in here, see a bunch of new faces, see the names on the [locker] tags. It's an exciting time."
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