Chris Tillman is scheduled to return from the 15-day disabled list on Sept. 11 in Detroit, but the Orioles right-hander isn't skipping steps in his recovery from right shoulder bursitis.
"It feels good, but I go day-to-day," Tillman said. "I'm not looking too far ahead. I want to feel good today and feel good tomorrow and we go from there. I think the way it's been going has been pretty positive."
Tillman is set to throw his first bullpen session since going on the DL before Sunday's series finale against the New York Yankees. He will throw another bullpen session Wednesday, then have a light catch Friday before returning to the mound.
"I think [Sunday is] going to be a big day for me," Tillman said. "We'll see how it goes."
After Tillman battled shoulder problems through most of August — he had one start pushed back, pitched poorly in that start and then regressed in his next between-start work day, landing him on the DL — he said he believes his physical obstacles are now behind him.
"Yeah, I think so," Tillman said. "I hope it's in the rearview mirror. I feel like it is as of right now, but I hate to put that '100 percent' term on it because you never know. We'll see what tomorrow brings."
For the most part, the Orioles starting rotation has held its own since Tillman (15-5, 3.76 ERA) went on the DL (retroactive to Aug. 21). But that hasn't made it easy for the Orioles ace to sit back and watch, especially given the magnitude of the games in the playoff race.
"Yeah, they've been throwing the ball well," Tillman said. "It's been fun [to watch], but you always like to do your job. I'm here to pitch, not sit around and do nothing. I get bored really quickly and it drives me nuts.
"I think it would be frustrating if it happened anytime in the year. Bad timing, yeah, but I like to take the ball every fifth day. That's what I pride myself on and it's not fun in general."
Showalter standing by Joseph's track record
On Saturday, catcher Caleb Joseph made his first start since returning to the major league club as part of September call-ups, but manager Buck Showalter said he won't look too deeply into Joseph's performance at the plate in the regular season's final month.
"I've got a long memory," Showalter said. "Caleb's got some big hits for us. We like having him up there in big situations. It's not like he's some pure, only defensive guy. He's gotten some big hits for us. … If you want to use the word 'vital,' there's a lot of other things going on in his life that might be vital. He's going to be a big league catcher next year."
Joseph — who showed he could be a capable major league catcher when Matt Wieters went down with an elbow that required Tommy John surgery in 2014 — has struggled this season at the plate, batting .193/.240/.211 with no homers and no RBIs in his first 41 games.
Joseph, who also missed one month with a testicular injury, was optioned to Triple-A last week to get more at bats before being called up when rosters expanded. He hit .250/.286/.250 with four RBIs in nine games with the Tides.
Wieters is set to be a free agent again this upcoming offseason after he rejoined the Orioles this year on a one-year qualifying offer, and top catching prospect Chance Sisco was promoted to Triple-A this past week. But Showalter said he still has confidence in what Joseph can do.
"I know what he's capable of," Showalter said. "He's got a strong track record, not necessarily a lot at the big league level. This is about catching, throwing and putting down fingers."
Orioles lose Tolliver on waivers
The Orioles were unable to slide left-handed reliever Ashur Tolliver through waivers as he was claimed by the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
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Tolliver, 28, made five appearances for the Orioles this season, posting a 5.79 ERA over 4 2/3 innings. But he was considered one of the team's top options when the club was searching for left-handed relief before he landed on the DL with a hamstring injury. He was rehabilitating with Short-A Aberdeen when he was designated for assignment.
"It's disappointing, but he's going to get a good opportunity for the Angels," Showalter said. "Knowing Ashur, that's something he deserves. He's a guy that can help. [I'm] sure they'll like him."
The organization thought highly of Tolliver, who made it to the majors this season after parts of seven seasons in the minors. He received heavy consideration to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft in December. He was unprotected and went unselected and made a solid impression during spring training.
Around the horn
Left-hander Kyle Lobstein, who was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday and then designated for assignment hours later, cleared waivers and will likely be asked to go to Sarasota, Fla., to join a group of players who will work out in case there's a major league need throughout September. ... Making his third rehab outing at Double-A Bowie, left-hander Brian Duensing (left shoulder inflammation) threw three innings on Friday, allowing one run on three hits with four strikeouts. Duensing has a 1.29 ERA in three outings at Bowie, throwing multiple innings in each appearance.