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Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman open to long-term extension

The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina talks about the second day of Orioles minicamp in Sarasota, Fla. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, who had a team-high 29 wins over the past two seasons, said Wednesday that he is open to a long-term extension with the club.

Tillman, the Orioles' Opening Day starter in 2014, has blossomed into one of the team's top starting pitchers over the past 2 1/2 seasons. He was 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 starts last year and has pitched at least 200 innings in back-to-back seasons.

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Tillman, 26, is in his first year of arbitration eligibility and figures to earn a significant raise this season after he made $546,000 in 2014. He's still under team control for the next three seasons, but both sides have expressed mutual interest in a long-term commitment.

"I think it's smart to listen, and I think it's dumb not to," Tillman said. "You weigh all the options and go with it. I don't know a whole lot about it, to tell you the truth. My agent called me about it, and I told him, 'You know what? Call me back when you know something.' That's not me. I'm day to day. I roll with the flow."

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Tillman attended this week's minicamp at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, but he did not throw at the event. He hasn't thrown a ball since the end of last season and, even though he was expected to throw here, coaches told him to wait.

The Orioles have 11 arbitration-eligible players this season and also have 11 who are pending free agents at the end of the upcoming season. But Tillman said he's not paying attention to any talk about an extension.

"I kind of shut it off after [I first heard]," Tillman said. "I don't like the play by play. I've been in this game too long and you hear too much about it. When it happens, it happens."

According to projections by MLBTradeRumors.com, Tillman is expected to make $5.4 million through the arbitration process this season, tying a record for the highest salary by a first-year eligible pitcher set by Dontrelle Willis and later matched by David Price.

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Tillman said he doesn't feel strongly either way whether the security of a long-term extension would be attractive to him over going through his arbitration years normally. He does know that he'd like to be in Baltimore for the long haul.

Regardless of whether he signs an extension or not, he likely will be with the Orioles for the near future. He doesn't become a free agent until after the 2017 season.

"I let my guys do their job, and that's what they're there for," Tillman said. "I can listen to older guys and that's really all I can do. Would I like to be with these guys and be their teammates for a while? You're [darn] right I would. We have a good team, a fun team and I enjoy it here."

eencina@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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