Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman's shoulder is still sore and this may affect when he starts pitching in regular season games. (Eduardo A. Encina & Jon Meoli, Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles right-handerChris Tillman received a cortisone injection in his right shoulder to help alleviate his lingering soreness there, manager Buck Showaltersaid Wednesday.
The club hopes the shot will resolve the problem. Tillman, who hasn’t thrown since cutting his Sunday bullpen session short after throwing just 10 pitches, will continue to be shut down for the next two to three days to allow the injection to take effect. He will then be re-evaulated to determine the next step in his progression.
“Chris got the injection today,” Showalter said following the Orioles’ 6-5 Grapefruit League loss Wednesday to the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park. “... We are in good shape there. I know they are encouraged where he is and how he is feeling right now. So, we’ll see in a couple days how he feels if he can get back on the bump.”
Showalter said he didn’t want to place a new timetable on Tillman’s return, but emphasized that the right-hander still won’t be ready for Opening Day on April 3, meaning the club is holding out hope he could return in the regular season’s first month.
“If he comes out of this and feels normal, then everything he’s done to get to this point won’t go away,” Showalter said. “It could move quickly then. But it’s still not Opening Day. That’s about as far as I’d go with it.”
SARASOTA, FLA. — The decision to receive the injection was made over completely shutting down Tillman for the foreseeable future, which would continue to delay his return this season and force him to restart his throwing progression from the beginning.
If Tillman is ready to resume throwing in the next few days, he wouldn't lose the progress he made. His bullpen session Sunday was scheduled to be the second-last step before pitching in a spring game.
“I think with the last part of that medication getting out of his system and the cortisone shot, we think we’ve increased out chances of him getting back on the hill,” Showalter said. “… I talked to him a little bit on the field yesterday. He was going through the pros and cons. You know, at the end of the day, it’s his decision.”
Showalter said this would be the only time Tillman can receive a cortisone injection for the next six months.
“We think this might help take it over this last hump,” Showalter said.
The team waited until mid-week to make the decision to ensure an antibiotic Tillman took wasn't creating the soreness.
The cortisone injection would follow a platelet-rich-plasma injection that Tillman received in December after complaining of tightness in his shoulder during a routine offseason throwing session.
Tillman also received a cortisone shot in his shoulder last August before landing on the disabled list for nearly three weeks with what the team described as shoulder bursitis.
He has been the Orioles' most consistent starting pitcher of the past four years, averaging 14 wins, 32 starts and 190 innings over that span. Tillman is also scheduled to become a free agent following this season.
Smith progressing slowly
Showalter said outfielder Seth Smith's recovery from a hamstring injury "is not progressing as quickly as we hoped."
"He didn't have a setback or anything," Showalter said. "He's just staying the same. We're going to continue to slow play that."
Showalter said Smith has dealt with hamstring injuries in the past in spring training and Smith told him he has dealt with worse ones at this point in the preseason. But Smith wants to heal the injury completely instead of letting it linger into the regular season as he did last year.
"He said he gets it about every spring," Showalter said. "Last year, he didn't feel like he was cautious enough with it and he went into the season with it."
Around the horn: Facing a left hander for just the fourth time this spring on Wednesday, outfielder HyunSoo Kim struck out looking against left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo. Kim is now 1-for-4 against left-handers this spring, with the one hit coming in the team’s exhibition game against the Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team. … Left-handed pitcher Chris Lee will make his first Grapefruit League start in Thursday’s home night game against the Phillies. Lee’s previous three spring appearances have been in relief, most recently throwing three shutout innings on the road against the Red Sox on Friday. He allowed just one hit, struck out four and walked one.