Thoughts on Tillman news, and minor league signings

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman delivers against the Oakland Athletics in a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 in Baltimore.(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Anytime on the first day of camp you here that your most likely opening day starter will not be ready by Opening Day due to a shoulder issue it’s not good news. Saying that, the news could have been worse and with the April schedule, it could just mean your 5th starter now will make an extra start or two if the best case scenario occurs.

Tillman reportedly underwent platelet rich plasma injections in his right shoulder in December, most likely to address the right shoulder bursitis that landed him on the disabled list last August. Add in the 4.45 ERA in the 2nd half of the season last year, and it’s a good thing that the Orioles are trying a non-surgical procedure to try and get Tillman back. The bad news is if this doesn’t work, you have to imagine a surgical option is next on the table.

If the PRP injections work, the Orioles have indicated that Tillman is on schedule to pitch by mid-April, maybe as early as April 9th. PRP injections normally take eight weeks to recover from and Tillman is already playing catch, so as long as there are no setbacks he should be available to pitch this April. Due to off days in the April schedule, the O’s only need a fifth starter twice in April on the 15th and the 25th. Then they don’t need one until May 2.

This schedule could allow for a few things. The Orioles could wait until April 15th to activate Tillman giving them an opportunity to keep an extra reliever for the first nine games of the season. Barring injury, the rotation without Tillman would most likely be Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley, and Ubaldo Jimenez. The Orioles could also give Tillman extra time, send him to a minor league rehab for a few starts, and activate him for the 25th start.

Losing Tillman is never a good thing, but the scheduled off days make losing him a little less painful as long as the other four starters stay healthy this spring and pitch well. That’s a big if of course.

Around the Horn

  • The Orioles signed former major league corner infielder Juan Francisco to a minor league contract. Francisco hasn’t played in the major leagues since 2014 and had serious contact issues his last few years in the major leagues. The left-handed hitter has plus plus raw power, but is strictly a platoon player at best.If he doesn’t get released, he’s most likely ticketed for Norfolk though he will have to battle newly signed Chris Johnson for playing time there. If there is any doubt about his power though, don’t forget about this homerun that he hit totally out of the park.
  • It will be interesting to see if Yermin Mercedes generates any buzz from Buck during the early part of camp. Mercedes is a poor defender behind the plate though he does have a strong arm, and his bat has garnered some interests from some scouts.  Interestingly, he’s been known to have a questionable off field reputation so it will bear watching if Buck makes any positive comments about him or he just catches pitchers and quietly gets sent to minor league camp once he’s no longer needed.The Orioles had plans on moving Mercedes to either first base or corner outfield this year at Frederick, but if he can make a good impression with Buck that could change.



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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.