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Healthy Tillman feels ahead of schedule

Right-hander anticipating first Grapefruit League start after diligent offseason work
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Chris Tillman's place on the Orioles' staff this spring is secure. He feels healthy, unlike last year when right shoulder soreness cost him the first month of the season and he finished the year with a 1-7 record and a 7.84 ERA.

Tillman, who re-signed with the team on Feb. 21, threw his first simulated game Saturday, and after about 40 pitches, pronounced himself satisfied.

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Chris Tillman's place on the Orioles' staff this spring is secure. He feels healthy, unlike last year when right shoulder soreness cost him the first month of the season and he finished the year with a 1-7 record and a 7.84 ERA.

Tillman, who re-signed with the team on Feb. 21, threw his first simulated game Saturday, and after about 40 pitches, pronounced himself satisfied.

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The right-hander didn't pitch in the Orioles' 10-8 win over the Red Sox on Sunday, and manager Buck Showalter doesn't have any immediate plans to start him in Grapefruit League games.

"I think at some point you're going to have to. I don't see a need right at this moment," Tillman said. "I'm not panicking by any means, but it's going to have to happen sooner or later."

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Showalter had Craig Gentry and Mark Trumbo bat against Tillman in the simulated game.

"We talked after. They're just as good at giving me a read as the other guys are, although they're probably a little nicer about it," Tillman said. "I asked them not to be nice, and it went well."

Tillman worked hard during the winter to be in shape for this camp.

"Other than innings pitched in Spring Training games, I'd say I'm a little bit ahead," Tillman said of his condition. "I got so far ahead in the offseason that now I'm kind of taking a step back and progressing to more normal."

Showalter likes the Tillman he's seen this spring. It reminds him of the healthy pitcher he saw in Spring Trainings before last year.

"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," Showalter said.

"He's in a situation where he's in a lot better shape [and doing things] that he wasn't able to do last year between now and the time we break camp or whenever his first start might be during the season. Wherever 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."

Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com.

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Tillman