OAKLAND, CALIF. — The Orioles were hoping they'd get right-hander Chris Tillman back on the mound Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.
The best-case scenario now is that Tillman returns from a sprained left ankle in time for Sunday's series finale in Anaheim, not far from where he grew up. If not there, he'll likely start Monday's opener in Seattle against the Mariners, the club that drafted him in 2006.
"I'd like to get in as soon as possible," said Tillman, who sprained his ankle in the ninth inning July 29 and hasn't pitched since. "These guys have been picking me up. I'd like to get in there and do my job, do my part."
Tillman had a work day Wednesday at O.co Coliseum to test his ankle and said everything went well. He'll have another one Friday in Anaheim where he'll also do some quick bursts off the mound to further test his ankle. Because it is his landing foot, he said he probably pitched more Wednesday than he normally would for a side session.
"I felt pretty good about it," said Tillman (8-7, 4.35 ERA). "It's a little bit of a mental hurdle and I think I got past that today. Physically, I felt good. The smartest thing is to get one more in and make a decision from there."
Because of Thursday's day off, the Orioles can push every starter back one game without disrupting their rotation.
The club announced that Kevin Gausman will start Friday against Angels lefty Andrew Heaney and Ubaldo Jimenez will face right-hander Garrett Richards on Saturday. Both teams are listing their starters for Sunday's series finale as "to be determined."
Tillman could pitch then or Miguel Gonzalez could draw the Sunday start on regular rest while Tillman would be pushed back to Monday at Safeco Field. If Tillman is not able to pitch by Tuesday, the Orioles likely would have to place him on the disabled list and bring up a starter for Tuesday, when no starter would be on regular rest.
But that doesn't appear likely at this point.
"Sunday would be the earliest," Tillman said. "Depending on how it feels, which I'm expecting it to feel good, [we'll] go from there."
Gonzalez allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings in the Orioles' 5-0 loss to the A's on Tuesday night. His overall pitching line was salvageable, but the length of the outing was disturbing. Gonzalez has now pitched 5 1/3 innings or fewer in seven of his past nine starts dating to June 9. In comparison, Gonzalez ended last season pitching at least six innings in 10 of his final 13 outings.
So what's the difference?
"He's not having a lot of early contact outs. That's usually what occurs," Showalter said. "It wasn't like they got a lot of hits [Tuesday] night or he walked a lot of people, just a lot of deep counts."
Showalter said he doesn't think Gonzalez has pitched badly, but given how well the right-hander has pitched in the past, he understands why the shorter outings are an issue.
"Because he has had a track record of having better results, I got it," Showalter said. "We watch it, [too]."
Roster move pending
The Orioles need to decide what to do with Rule 5 right-hander Jason Garcia, whose rehabilitation assignment for a shoulder injury has expired. Garcia could be placed on waivers or added to the big league roster, but then another player would have to come off the 25-man roster. Ultimately, the team could be forced to offer the hard-throwing Garcia back to the Boston Red Sox, his original team. A move could be announced during Thursday's day off.
Around the horn
Showalter said he considered starting Matt Wieters behind the plate for a second consecutive game, but instead chose to rest the catcher Wednesday, which gives Wieters two full days off. Showalter said Wieters' surgically repaired elbow is fine. Showalter is just taking precautions when he can as the season wanes. … With a strikeout of Billy Burns in the fourth, Wei-Yin Chen reached 500 strikeouts in his major league career. … Second baseman Jonathan Schoop was hit in the right knee by a pitch in the fifth inning and fell to the ground for several moments. He remained in the game. … The Orioles are now 9-11 versus American League West teams this year.