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SARASOTA, FLA. — Not much has changed about Chris Tillman's assessment of his spring training debut last week against the Minnesota Twins, in which he walked six and was charged with four runs in two-plus innings.
But as he enters the final week of camp and prepares to face the Detroit Tigers on Monday in Lakeland, Fla., the urgency has. Tillman knows that despite being a veteran and a familiar pitcher to the Orioles, the level of uncertainty about his performance after a career-worst 2017 will rise with another rocky Grapefruit League performance.
"I don't think there's a guy in there who's going to want to go out there and give up runs or walks," Tillman said. "At the end of the day, we've got to be ready for the season."
Tillman pitched in two simulated games behind Ed Smith Stadium in March before debuting Tuesday in Fort Myers. He said after the game that he caused most of his problems.
"Nothing more than what we talked about over there — I think six walks is horrible, but if you look at the misses, they were all pretty good," Tillman said. "It's kind of where if you are going to miss, that's where you want to. Contact was weak, one well-hit ball. I would have liked to have pitched better. I know I can pitch better."
Tillman on Tuesday lamented the way he was so two-seam heavy, though it turned out that wasn't by design.
"Even when he was calling four seams, I was throwing two seams," Tillman said. "My two seam doesn't do much, but it's a little slower and a little more movement. That's what caused them to go from strike to ball as opposed to being there. The contact wasn't good. Other than the walks, it was all right. Walks are never good."
The Orioles signed Tillman to a major league deal early in spring training to fill out their threadbare rotation, but after Monday, he'll likely have just one start to prepare for the season in Grapefruit League action before the team heads north.
After posting a 7.81 ERA last year and losing his rotation spot ahead of his free-agent walk year, Tillman must solidify his spot in a set of five starters with a spring performance that backs up his self-assessment of his first start.