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Orioles notes: Chris Tillman joining bullpen as rotation shrinks to five

Struggling Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman could be available out of the bullpen as early as Sunday, manager Buck Showalter said before Saturday's game, and won't be included in the rotation as the club shrinks down from six starters to five this week.

Showalter indicated Friday that a decision was coming on Tillman after he allowed seven runs (five earned) in two-plus innings Thursday to raise his ERA to 8.10 in 15 starts this season.

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"I talked to him yesterday for a while with [pitching coach Roger McDowell] there, and obviously now, it's done good things for Ubaldo [Jiménez] and some other people in the past. It did real good things for Zach Britton on the other end of it," Showalter said.

"But I know Chris, and talking to him, physically he feels great. He feels good. That's been frustrating for all of us, so we're trying to figure out some way to try to get him back. I know, like they've been doing all year, they've made some more adjustments to see if he feels better. It's tough, tough for him to have a work day and do things he needs to work on. But Ubaldo seemed to find a way to make it productive and I know Chris will, too, because those guys are going to need to pitch and do well."

Tillman has never appeared out of the bullpen as a major leaguer, but told Showalter he expects he'll be able to warm up and get into games more quickly than might be expected for someone with such an extended routine before his starts.

Jiménez in a good place

Jiménez hopes to make it three straight strong starts Sunday after allowing a combined three earned runs in 13 innings over his past two outings.

He said the work in between starts is also a lot easier when things are going well during games.

"I think when things are fine and where they're supposed to be, you don't even think about mechanics or this pitch or this thing," Jiménez said. "You just go to the mound and let it work. That's the beautiful thing about when you're doing good. You don't have to think about anything. ... It is less stressful. The first month before, I had to think, 'I have to work on this mechanics, I had to work on this pitch.' But the last three starts, in between, I'm just going to throw my bullpen and let everything work by itself."

Jiménez is 4-7 with a 6.56 ERA on the season

Joseph available after HBP

Caleb Joseph had an X-ray on his right hand after Friday's game because of the fastball that hit off it in the seventh inning, and while there was some discomfort lingering Saturday afternoon, Showalter said the catcher was available to hit off the bench.

"It's sore, but the X-rays came back negative," Joseph said. "That's good. I'm going to continue to treat it and test it out. The bones feel good, but I think it's the swelling that's a little tight. So it's just getting that swelling out. Once we get the swelling out, we'll be all right."

Around the horn: Trey Mancini is back in the lineup and started in left field Saturday after missing Friday's loss because of soreness cause by fouling a ball off his knee the previous night. ... Showalter said outfielder-designated hitter Mark Trumbo (rib cage strain) won't have any minor league rehabilitation games, and instead will fly west with the team Sunday ahead of his expected activation Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif. ... Infielder Ryan Flaherty (shoulder) had two hits in a rehab game for Double-A Bowie in his hometown of Portland, Maine, on Friday. … The Orioles made their 10th trade of the calendar year involving international signing bonus slots on Saturday, acquiring 21-year-old infielder Brallan Pérez from the Texas Rangers. Pérez, who will go to High-A Frederick, has spent most of this year at Low-A Hickory and High-A Down East, and has hit a combined .270/.335/.320 with six extra-base hits in 69 total games.

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