Inbox: How will Orioles fill Tillman's void?

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers questions from fans

March 28th, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla -- What's going to happen to Chris Tillman's rotation spot?
-- John R., Parkville, Md.

When you look at the rotation, the Orioles have a lot of off-days. They don't have to make a decision coming out of camp, and they probably won't. April 15 is the real date when they need a fifth starter for Tillman. Until that time, they're going to use the rest of the spring to evaluate guys. Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, , and Chris Lee are all in the mix, but I expect most, if not all, of them to be down in Triple-A Norfolk.
There's going to be a lot of maneuvering, a lot of roster shuffling, and really, the short answer is I don't have an answer for you, and the Orioles don't have really have an answer (though manager Buck Showalter said they have an idea). I think it's really going to come down last minute to matchups, what they're able to do with the roster and where the team is at.
Tillman started throwing on Sunday, and the hope is that he's only out for those two starts in April.
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Who bats leadoff?
-- Steve P., Washington

That's a question we get a lot. The best candidates right now are probably Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard. In a perfect world, they'd have a leadoff guy. But that's really a role that's kind of disappearing. Those are the two guys who have the most skills and seem to be best suited, although Showalter joked around that he's considered Chris Davis for the leadoff spot. They could have some fun with it. is an option, though he was so good in that second spot during the World Baseball Classic. I think they would ideally like for him to hit a little bit deeper in the order. The same thing goes for Manny Machado.
Are there any surprises in camp?
-- Beth R., Dundalk, Md.

, to me, is a guy who may have been a surprise to a lot of you last September. He's continued to have a really good camp, really trying to make a push for a bench spot on this team. He's probably one of the feel-good stories of the spring for the Orioles. He's someone who has really stepped up and run with the opportunity.
Will the O's be able to keep either of their Rule 5 Draft picks?
-- Dan L., Baltimore

Yes, they will. Once again, the Orioles are going to be able to, at least for now, hang on to a Rule 5 pick in outfielder , who will start the season on the disabled list due to elbow soreness. Santander had offseason shoulder surgery.
What can the Orioles expect out of this year?
-- Carissa M., Norfolk, Va.

I think Bundy is about as critical a piece as you can have for this upcoming season, honestly. He's slotted as the team's No. 2 starter coming out of camp, and a year ago he wasn't even in the rotation. A lot has been made of the ascent of and Bundy and how important they are if the Orioles want to contend. The good news is Bundy got his feet wet last year, and his move to the rotation went about as well as you could expect.
As long as Bundy stays healthy, I think he's in line for a really solid year. They'll still monitor his innings and potentially try to get him extra days when needed, but the reins have been considerably lifted from last season, meaning the Orioles can benefit from having two strong, young arms in their rotation.