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Chris Tillman Still Waiting For First Grapefruit League Start

March 8, 2018
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman is still waiting for his first Grapefruit League start of 2018. 

The Orioles re-signed Chris Tillman Feb. 21, six days after right-hander Andrew Cashner joined the team. But neither Cashner nor Tillman has started in Grapefruit League games, yet.

Manager Buck Showalter wants to keep Tillman and Cashner -- along with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman -- away from American League East teams in spring training. He's also keeping starters away from the Minnesota Twins, who the Orioles play in the season-opening series.

Cashner is scheduled for his first Grapefruit League start March 11 against the Philadelphia Phillies, but Tillman hasn't been given an official start date.

Tillman, who threw 61 pitches in a simulated game on a back field of Ed Smith Stadium March 8, said he's in no rush to pitch in regularly scheduled games.
"I think at some point you're going to have to," Tillman said. "I don't see a need right at this moment. I'm not panicking by any means, but it's going to have to happen sooner or later."
In his previous simulated game, Tillman faced Mark Trumbo and Craig Gentry.
"We talked after," Tillman said. "They're just as good at giving me a read as the other guys are, although they're probably a little nicer about it. I asked them not to be nice and it went well.
"… Anytime you're able to talk to hitters about it, period, it's good. You can't necessarily walk into the other clubhouse and ask them what they're thinking and what they're seeing. It's good to get a hitter's perspective on what things look like and what might be good or bad and what you might need to work on."

Tillman lives in Sarasota during the offseason, so Showalter allowed the right-hander to work out at the Orioles' spring training facility this winter. 

Tillman, who missed all of spring training last year due to a sore right shoulder, struggled through the 2017 season. He went 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA. In the five previous seasons, Tillman won 65 games.

"That's one of the attractions for us, signing him, bringing him back, was that we knew what he was able to do this year that he wasn't able to do last year," Showalter said.
"He's in a situation where he's in a lot better shape. … Whether it equates him with more success, it certainly doesn't hurt. When you have a history with someone like him, we know what he does leading into camp when things are good. Last year wasn't one of them."

Showalter said it was difficult to watch Tillman last season because he had seen him pitch so well in the years before.
"He wasn't looking like he was in pain last year," Showalter said. "It wasn't like he was pitching through some things. He just wasn't…He didn't have the preparation. I don't think he left here feeling real confident that he was where he needed to be. It was kind of catch-up the whole year."
Tillman has been through many successful spring trainings, and he knows what's required. He's confident he knows where he stands in comparison to other normal springs.
"Other than innings pitched in spring training games, I'd say I'm a little bit ahead," Tillman said. "I got so far ahead in the offseason that I now I'm kind of taking a step back and progressing to more normal."

Follow Rich on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox