Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman took his biggest step yet in his return from a right shoulder injury on Monday night.
Making his first minor-league rehab start at Double-A Bowie, the veteran allowed one run and two hits over 2 2/3 innings against Richmond. Tillman gave up a solo home run in the first inning, struck out three, and walked one in the process of throwing 42 pitches.
Multiple reports from Bowie indicated that Tillman threw his full assortment of pitches with his fastball sitting in the high 80s and topping out at around 90 or 91 miles per hour. That velocity is below his career average, but he told reporters that he felt good on the mound after initially having difficulty getting loose. Manager Buck Showalter indicated earlier this month that Tillman was still in the process of rebuilding strength in his shoulder, making the diminished velocity less surprising.
“I don’t know if they’re ever going to really feel like there’s a point where Chris is completely [where they say], ‘OK, he’s done that, so everything’s fine,’” Showalter said on April 8. “Each time he takes a workday and each time he throws, you’re anxious to see how he feels the next day.”
Should Tillman respond favorably to his first rehab start over the next day or two, he is expected to next pitch for Single-A Frederick. The Orioles hope that the 29-year-old will be ready to return to the major league rotation by early May if he does not suffer any setbacks.