Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn't want Chris Tillman thinking that he's considering sending the struggling right-hander to the bullpen. And he said he doesn't believe that a potential move would necessarily help either, even as Tillman continues to build a track record of disappointing starts.
"Chris knows that an 8.00 ERA in the American League after, what, nine starts? Not good enough," Showalter said Tuesday night. "And he knows if we have to make an adjustment, we will. But you potentially get better in one place, but you're going to harm some other things."
After Tillman failed to get out of the fifth inning Tuesday night, allowing five runs on 11 base runners over four-plus innings, his season ERA is 8.39. But on Wednesday, Showalter echoed his sentiment made postgame Tuesday, that he doesn't have any intention to send Tillman to the bullpen.
"What am I going to say?" Showalter said. "I'm not going to have him ... the last thing he needs is having a manager question that."
Tillman hasn't made a relief outing in 188 big league appearances, and a move to the 'pen would be difficult not only because it would include a dramatic shift in routine, but also because Tillman's first-inning problems could leave him more exposed as a reliever. Tillman has a 15.00 ERA in nine starts, and opponents are hitting .419 against him in the opening inning.
"Some of it is his ability to pitch out of the 'pen would be a challenge anyway," Showalter said. "We see his work days, we know in between."
There's also no clear successor for Tillman's rotation spot.
In three of the past four seasons, the Orioles have moved right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez to the bullpen, and each time he's rejoined the starting rotation, most recently this past Sunday.
"Ubaldo is a little bit more equipped for it physically," Showalter said. "Ubaldo has been healthy, post up, make his starts, and it's been remarkable. I mean, you compare him with pitchers with that many starts in baseball in general and you'll be challenged to come up with many that can compare with him. So as far as that four years, it's been pretty special statistically to post up and make that many starts in a row. He's a little different where he is physically than where Chris is."
Tilllman maintains he's healthy from shoulder problems that dogged him since August and forced him to miss the first month of the season.
Britton continues rehab Thursday
Closer Zach Britton, who is recovering from a left forearm strain, will make his second minor league rehabilitation assignment Thursday night for Low-A Delmarva.
Britton pitched a 12-pitch scoreless inning in his first rehab outing Tuesday at Short-A Aberdeen.
Showalter said Britton discussed the possibility of throwing on back-to-back days for the Shorebirds, but said he likely would do that until following his second outing at Delmarva on Saturday.
"We ended up saying, let's wait until [Thursday and Saturday] go before we start committing to something beyond that," Showalter said. "I could tell today [the look] in his face and his whole demeanor, getting that first one behind him is better. … He's kind of in a groove."
The Orioles placed Britton on the 60-day disabled list Tuesday, meaning he can't be activated until July 4, but Showalter said the move doesn't affect his return date much.
"We had two dates that he could return, one was the day before that's up and one is I think the day or two afterwards the way we have it mapped out," Showalter said. "[July 3] was a little bit of a push. It was more like the 5th."
Darren O'Day's simulated game Wednesday went well, Showalter said, and provided that the right-handed reliever who is recovering from a right shoulder strain recovers well Thursday, he should be activated from the disabled list before Friday night's series opener at Tampa Bay.
•Showalter said first baseman Chris Davis received two platelet-rich plasma injections Tuesday to help accelerate his recovery from a right oblique strain.
Davis will travel with the team to Tampa Bay this weekend but report to the club's spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., when the Orioles go to Toronto, then rejoin the club when it gets back to Baltimore.
•Catcher Welington Castillo sat out Wednesday night's game with a sore throwing shoulder. Showalter said he took a foul ball to his arm Monday night.
Around the horn
First baseman Trey Mancini entered Wednesday's game hitting .333 (22-for-66) in June and has hit safely in 14 of 18 games. … The Orioles entered Wednesday second in the AL and third in the majors with 33 homers in June. They hit a 55 homers last June, a major league record for the most in that month. ... The Orioles announced that they have signed 27 draft picks, including second-round competitive-balance pick Zac Lowther and third-rounder Michael Baumann. The team also signed Mason McCoy (6), Ben Breazeale (7), Jimmy Murphy (8), T.J. Nichting (9), Josh Keaton (10), Trevor Craport (11), Tucker Baca (12), Reed Hayes (13), Cameron Ming (14), JC Escarra (15), Jacob Brown (18), Scott Burke (20), Jose Montanez (21), Luke Ringhofer (22), Bryndan Arredondo (23), Willy Yahn (25), Nick Vichio (27), Zach Jarrett (28), Matt Hammonds (29), Will Robertson (30), Robbie Thorburn (31), Max Hogan (32), Ryan Wilson (33), Tim Naughton (34) and Tyler Coolbaugh (36). ... Gavin Sheets (Gilman), a second-round White Sox draft pick from Wake Forest and the son of former Oriole Larry Sheets, signed with Chicago for $2 million, Baseball America reported. The slot value for pick No. 49 was $1,392,200.