ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — The Orioles have a better idea of when they will get right-hander Chris Tillman and setup man Darren O'Day back from the disabled list after both pitchers threw bullpen sessions before Wednesday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Getting both pitchers back — the team's most reliable starter and its top eighth-inning reliever — would give the Orioles a major boost down the stretch.
Tillman is still scheduled to return from the DL to start Sunday's series finale in Detroit after Wednesday's session went well.
Manager Buck Showalter said that Tillman, who has been on the DL for two weeks with right shoulder bursitis, will throw another light bullpen session Friday before returning against the Tigers.
O'Day, who threw a 26-pitch side session Wednesday, will also throw another bullpen Friday, and then scheduled to throw a simulated game Monday or Tuesday. That would be O'Day's final hurdle before being able to return from his right rotator cuff strain. He could be activated as early as next Wednesday.
"I felt good," O'Day said. "No pain, so that's good. … It's the best it's felt since I got hurt, so that's encouraging."
Showalter said that the Orioles don't believe Tillman needs a simulated game before returning because he last pitched on Aug. 20.
O'Day missed nearly eight weeks with a slow-healing hamstring strain, then made eight appearances before returning to the DL with a shoulder injury on Aug. 13.
"[O'Day] needs to face some hitters and get into some game situations, some ups and downs, where Chris isn't that far removed from pitching in a game," Showalter said.
The Orioles rotation has overcome Tillman's loss nicely, and Tillman said he's eager to get back.
"It's been fun to watch, but tough because I want to be a part of it," Tillman said. "I tell them that every day. It's fun to watch. That's one of our things, every time, after [a start]. 'Hey, fun to watch.' We've always done that."
Day off for Davis
First baseman Chris Davis, who left Tuesday's game in the fifth inning with a bruised left hand, was given Wednesday off. He'll have two days' rest with the team's day off Thursday.
Davis, who said after Tuesday's game that he would be back in the lineup Wednesday, has dealt with discomfort in his left hand since April.
"I don't think people sometimes completely respect the pounding guy's hands take hitting," Showalter said. "… There are so many more swings taken by guys now than they used to take. … Just wear and tear. He's gotten base hits on balls, in fact the home run he hit yesterday, he got jammed a little bit. It stung him a bit."
Showalter said Davis had precautionary X-rays taken on his hand, but there was nothing to indicate the injury worsened to the point that Davis will miss time. But Showalter added that this is why having depth late in the season is important.
"It could come back and [show something]," Showalter said. "That's why you acquire people like Steve Pearce. That's why you have Ryan Flaherty. That's why you have Steve Pearce, who can play second base. They're not going to stop the Ferris Wheel and say, 'OK, everybody stop. The Orioles have somebody hurt in the a key place.' They didn't stop when Darren O'Day left us, or Tillman or [Joey] Rickard or [Kevin] Gausman or [Dylan] Bundy or [Yovani] Gallardo. They didn't stop. They didn't say, 'Let's feel sorry for the Orioles.'"
Catcher Matt Wieters also had Wednesday off.
Showalter working the matchups
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will start Saturday in Detroit, remaining on regular rest, a sign that Showalter will align his rotation based on matchups and other factors down the stretch as Tillman returns from the DL. Showalter said he wants to keep Jimenez on four days' rest.
Tillman is scheduled to start Sunday and left-hander Wade Miley is scheduled to start Monday's series opener in Boston. When Tillman returns, Showalter will have six starters to choose from.
"It's going to be a day-to-day thing," Showalter said. "We've got this thing here that had everybody's record against everyone we're playing the rest of the year home and away. … You bridge that with how someone is currently pitching and you bridge that with how many innings someone's thrown or not thrown, how many pitches they threw in their last outing. Who's a hot pitcher, who's not? Just trying to take in all the factors we have and put our best foot forward."
Around the horn
Despite Wednesday's loss, the Orioles have won 11 of 15 games against the Rays this season. They will host the Rays for a four-game series starting next week at Camden Yards. … Wednesday's game marked the fourth time in club history that the Orioles lost a nonextra-inning game in which their pitching staff recorded 15 or more strikeouts. The last time was Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 23, 1999, a 9-6 loss. … Showalter said that left-hander Jayson Aquino, who hasn't pitched since he was called up when rosters expanded last week, will report to Sarasota, Fla., after Sunday's game to work out with a group of players there remaining active in case a call-up is needed. "We want to keep him pitching and throwing a ball," Showalter said. … Pitching coach Dave Wallace will be away from the team for the next four days dealing with family issues. Bullpen coach Dom Chiti will be in the dugout to serve as pitching coach and player development director Brian Graham will be in the bullpen. Wallace will rejoin the team in Boston on Monday.