Chris Tillman ready to pitch after 'watching everybody else'

FORT MYERS, FLA. — Right-hander Chris Tillman doesn't hide the fact that he wants the ball in his hand, and was only half joking when he said it's been tough watching his teammates pitch in the first week of Grapefruit League games while waiting for his first spring start.

"I hate this part of spring, watching everybody else pitch," he said.


Tillman, the Orioles' Opening Day starter in each of the past two seasons, will be the club's last starter to make his spring debut on Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies at Ed Smith Stadium.

"I'm looking forward to it, getting back into the swing of things," Tillman said. "My timing's been off a bit. I think it helps a bit to see a hitter to get your timing back and start building from here."


The Orioles have been slow to bring along some of their starting pitchers this spring after the team played deep into October.

Tillman, who has pitched back-to-back 200-inning seasons, threw a career-high 207 1/3 innings in the regular season and logged another 9 1/3 in the postseason.

Tillman was told in the offseason not to throw any bullpen sessions leading up to spring training.

"I think the point was to get guys as much rest as they possibly could," Tillman said. "You know what, I agree with it. It's smart. You see some guys break down after a couple of long seasons and we're trying to eliminate that. I like it."

Paredes continues strong spring

Third baseman Jimmy Paredes has opened the exhibition season as the Orioles' hottest hitter, raising his Grapefruit League batting average to .500 with two hits and an RBI in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium.

No one is particularly surprised. Paredes has shown he can hit at the major league level; he had a .302 batting average, .327 on-base and .491 slugging percentage in 18 games with the Orioles last season, most of them as a September call-up. Paredes was claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals in July.

"It would be different if he was just doing this in the spring,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, "but we saw this same thing last year, too. Jimmy can swing the bat from both sides."

Still, it's hard to project him sticking with the major league club in April as a utility player because of his defensive limitations. Paredes is out of minor-league options and would have to clear waivers before he could be outrighted to Triple-A.

But Showalter won't rule anything out as long as he keeps piling up good at-bats.

Paredes did not impress anyone with his glove last year — and had a .900 fielding percentage in limited time at third base — but Showalter said he has seen improvement this spring.

"He's got great work habits. … He wants it,'' Showalter said. "It's very obvious he's very hungry. Jimmy will do whatever and whenever. Probably not there yet (defensively), but he could be. He's better this year than he was last year."


First round of cuts expected

Showalter said that the team will likely begin making its first round of cuts on Monday.

Minor league camp began over the weekend at the Twin Lakes, Fla., camp and innings in Grapefruit League games are starting to be at a premium.

"It's kind of time, but it's some time we've gotten a pretty good return from," Showalter said.

Showalter traditionally has in-person meetings with each player when they get cut, and that will be no different this year. He usually surrounds himself with major and minor league staff when meeting with those players.

"I want (Triple-A Norfolk manager) Ron Johnson when I tell them what the plan there is for them so the guy doesn't get there and say, 'Well, but he told me one thing and you're doing the other,'" Showalter said. "I want (them) to know where they stand. Just because you're sent out early, it doesn't mean we don't have plans for you.

"If the at-bats are going away here and the innings are going away here and we have plans for you, obviously with a little more established rotation, bullpen and lineup, we have some guys we really have priority on."

Joseph a father

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph and his wife, Brooke, welcomed the arrival of their first child on Saturday evening, a baby boy they named Walker Everett.

The baby, which was born at 6:40 p.m., weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 21 1/4 inches long.

After Sunday's game, Showalter said he hadn't talked to Joseph about his return, but he could rejoin the team on Monday.

"I'm going to wait and see and not jump to any conclusions," Showalter said. "I know if it is at all possible and he feels comfortable, he'll probably be there tomorrow."

Around the horn

Showalter was impressed with two scoreless relief innings from right-hander Brad Brach in Sunday's loss. Brach struck out two, allowed no hits and Showalter said his fastball was back up to 93 mph, a first for this spring. … Left-hander Mark Hendrickson and right-hander Tommy Hunter each pitched scoreless innings in Sunday's loss. … Right-hander Aaron Harang is slated to start for the Phillies on Monday. Other Philadelphia pitchers slated to pitch are right-hander Paul Clemens, left-hander Adam Morgan, right-hander Justin De Fratus, right-hander Phillippe Aumont and right-hander Luis Garcia. … Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is scheduled to pitch Tuesday's home game against the New York Yankees, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is slated to pitch Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays and right-hander Bud Norris will start Thursday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. All three will be making their second spring start.

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