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Orioles notes: Chris Tillman's first throws since cortisone shot go well

Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman restarted his road back from shoulder soreness with a game of catch from as far as 90 feet Sunday.

Manager Buck Showalter said the session "went well," and added that while Tillman will likely have to restart his progression with half-mound sessions and bullpens to build back up his arm strength, he'll still come north when camp breaks to experience Opening Day and rehab under the supervision of the team's trainers.

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"They really want to have him with them during the side sessions," Showalter said. "Also, we think it would be good for him to be there in the environment. He deserves to be there for Opening Day."

Tillman has not pitched this entire spring. He had a cortisone shot on March 15 to try to alleviate discomfort in his right shoulder, the same pain that cost him three weeks of his season last summer and required a platelet-rich plasma injection during the offseason.

He had been on an aggressive recovery track that was meant to get him back in the Orioles rotation by April 15, but his comeback stalled after he aborted a bullpen session on March 12 — just before he was scheduled to get into games in Sarasota.

Showalter said the rest of his schedule would be clearer Monday, and that the simple experience of throwing was good for Tillman.

"That was good to see," Showalter said. "Nothing really strenuous, other than 60, 90 feet. Got the ball in his hand. I was talking to him after. He felt good. It felt a little foreign in his hand, first time he's had a ball in his hand. It felt a little strange. The day after tomorrow, he'll do it again."

Orioles remember Frohwirth: Former Orioles pitcher Todd Frohwirth, who remained with the club as a pro scout and was instrumental in the development of Darren O'Day into an All-Star, died at age 54 from complications of stomach cancer, the club announced.

"He was a special member of the Orioles family," Showalter said. "One of our best scouts, and a great human being. He's been a big contributor here."

Frohwirth pitched with the Orioles from 1991 to 1993 and made 186 appearances with a 2.71 ERA. Over his nine-year career, which also included stops with the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and California Angels, Frohwirth made 284 appearances with a 3.60 ERA.

The team will honor him with a moment of silence before Monday's game at Ed Smith Stadium.

Hart ticking: Orioles left-hander Donnie Hart came into camp having to essentially pitch his way off the roster after an eye-opening major league debut last summer, and he's done nothing to dissuade the team from counting him among their top relievers come Opening Day.

Entering Sunday's game against the Blue Jays, Hart had logged nine Grapefruit League appearances and allowed just one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. His performance has exceeded even his own expectations.

"You always kind of expect yourself to do good," Hart said. "Not in a way of arrogance or cockiness, but just you always have high expectations to yourself. I set myself a high standard and hold myself there, but numbers-wise, I didn't expect to give up one run over nine or 10 innings. But that's what you've got to do as a relief pitcher. I've still got to finish off strong because you want to go into the season on a good note, and when the time comes, hopefully I'll be there on Opening Day. That was the goal, to have a good spring training and hopefully earn that right and that opportunity."

With that end in mind, Hart said his pitches are nearing the level he wants for Opening Day and beyond. He's not at the point where he can work on his pitches during games — he still needs results — but is where he wants to be nonetheless.

"I like to work on my stuff when I'm not out there," Hart said. "When I'm out there, I'm trying to compete and get outs. To me, I feel really good right now. My fastball command is almost 100 percent. My velocity is starting to be more consistent on the higher end instead of the lower end, so that's always good, and the changeup and slider are getting really close to being 100 percent too. We're getting there."

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Showalter said there is always a question about how young players coming off their debut will return for a full spring training, but Hart has erased any worries in the manager’s mind.

“A lot of guys, it’s that big fooler, spring and September,” Showalter said. “But I think if you watch him through the heat of the playoff race last year, it’s impressive. History and experience will tell you sometimes those guys come in and are a little different guy, but he’s picked up right where he left off. It’s been good to see. He’s making a case for himself.”

Around the horn: The Blue Jays announced Sunday that right-hander Marco Estrada will pitch on Opening Day next Monday against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Left-hander J.A. Happ will pitch the second game of the series on April 5. ... Outfielder Seth Smith had three hits in four at-bats during a minor league intrasquad game at Twin Lakes Park, while Zach Britton and Brad Brach each pitched an inning to get back-to-back days in before camp breaks. … Center fielder Adam Jones could be held out of action until Thursday, Showalter said. … Left-hander Wade Miley had a good bullpen Sunday, Showalter said, and is on track to start Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves in Orlando.

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