Two front-office sources have confirmed the initial report of the Kevin Millwood trade, signalling that Texas and Baltimore may only be an approved medical report away from making things official. The Rangers seem set to send Millwood and cash considerations to the Orioles in exchange for former closer Chris Ray, who is coming off a down year after an elbow injury.
The timetable for the team to review the medical reports is unknown, and it could take as little as a few hours or as much as a few days. Texas will likely be interested in the condition of Ray’s shoulder, which was repaired in 2007 and caused him to miss the 2008 season.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will want to check out the wear-and-tear associated with Millwood’s arm, an appendage that has logged more than 2,000 innings over his career. If everything passes muster, Millwood will give the Orioles another veteran arm at the top of the rotation to help support highly touted youngsters Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz.
— Spencer Fordin
There are multiple teams embroiled in the Kevin Millwood sweepstakes with the Rangers, but the Orioles appear to have faded from a favorite to just another contender. The two teams have exchanged names of pitching prospects that could be sent from Baltimore to Texas, but there appears to be a cavernous gulf between what the Rangers want and what they can get.
This much is certain: The Rangers and Orioles match up well in terms of money. Texas is trying to shed some salary and Baltimore has plenty of room in the budget as well as a pressing need for starting pitching. The Rangers reportedly asked the Orioles for Chris Tillman, while Baltimore would prefer to trade David Hernandez or Brandon Erbe.
Now, the two teams will either try to find a middle ground or move on to other pursuits.
— Spencer Fordin
Veteran backstop Gregg Zaun caught Chris Tillman’s Major League debut on Wednesday night and came away impressed with his potential. Zaun, a 13-year veteran of the big leagues, provided a scouting report that makes Tillman sound like a potential long-term ace.
“I saw flashes of what I’ve heard,” said Zaun. “Real good fastball and at times an extremely sharp breaking ball, what some people might call a yakker. He’s got a good one. It’s there. And he’s got a tremendous changeup. But his offspeed stuff was in and out, and it was hard to get into a rhythm because he was in and out of the zone with all three of his pitches. “
The Orioles are apparently set to promote top pitching prospect Chris Tillman to make his Major League debut on Wednesday, a move that allows Baltimore to give its other starters an extra day between rotation turns. Manager Dave Trembley said Saturday that Rich Hill will start Monday and Jason Berken on Tuesday before a mystery pitcher throws on Wednesday.
Trembley, who had said earlier in the week that Tillman’s promotion was imminent but with a uncertainty as to which specific day, said Saturday that Wednesday’s pitcher shouldn’t be a surprise. A roster move will be required, he said, and wouldn’t divulge much more info.
Trembley said he has no plans to go with a six-man rotation and that Wednesday’s start wouldn’t be a one-time audition, which likely means that Tillman’s presence will force someone else out of the rotation. In this case, it likely means Berken or Hill.
The Orioles endorsed Jason Berken to make Monday’s start against the Royals but cryptically stopped short of naming Rich Hill to start on Tuesday. Baltimore is considering the promotion of pitching prospect Chris Tillman, which would change the existing pitching equation. Still, at this point, they’re not prepared to say when he’ll join the team.
“You know, Tillman is going to get here,” said manager Dave Trembley. “It’s just a matter of when. I can’t tell you right know the exact date when he’s going to be here.”
Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, was just as cagey regarding Tillman’s potential promotion. MacPhail refused to lean either way, and when asked if a recent adverse start by Tillman would affect the timetable, he shook his head.
“I don’t think [it’s fair] a kid that has pitched well virtually for the entire time that we got him to penalize him for a bad outing,” said MacPhail. “To put that much emphasis on one outing, I don’t think would be fair to anybody.”
The Orioles learned of another pitching injury Saturday night, a mere matter of hours after watching Koji Uehara leave the game early with a sore left hamstring. Chris Tillman, one of the team’s top pitching prospects, left Triple-A Norfolk’s game with a tight groin. Tillman, who went into Saturday’s start with a 5-0 record and a 2.13 ERA will be re-evaluated Sunday.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was closely questioned about starter Adam Eaton’s job security on Thursday, and he chose to keep his comments short and sweet. Trembley was asked how long he could afford to stick with Eaton — who went into Thursday’s game with a 7.93 ERA — and he replied by saying he wasn’t really sure about his alternatives.
“We have every reason to believe that he’ll pitch well [tonite],” said Trembley. “What happens after that, I really can’t give an answer to because I don’t have one. If I did, I would be very willing to share that with you. I understand what I’m being asked, I know what you want me to say. But I’d rather just let him pitch tonight and see what happens. Everything will become clear. I’ll be prepared to answer the question if he doesn’t pitch well tonight.”
Eaton, who was signed in Spring Training to help buy time for the team’s flock of young arms, didn’t pitch well. He allowed doubles to the first three batters he faced and gave up six earned runs in the first two innings, prompting Trembley’s worst-case scenario.
If the Orioles eventually opt to jettison Eaton, they’ll likely promote either David Hernandez from Triple-A Norfolk or Troy Patton from Double-A Bowie. Chris Tillman could also be an option, but Baltimore wants him to spend most of the year at Norfolk.
The Orioles began making their first cuts of the spring on Saturday, although some of the players may hang around for an extra day or two before they depart to the team’s Minor League complex in Sarasota. Perhaps the most prominent of the cuts was right-hander Chris Tillman, who’s considered one of the team’s best pitching prospects.
Tillman, just 20 years old, is expected to split the season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk and might be the first of Baltimore’s top prospects to reach the Majors. For now, he’s concentrating on what he has to do next.
“They kind of let me know I’m here for the experience and to get to know the guys. The time will come,” he said. “They’re not sure where I’ll start because there are so many pitchers now, which is a good thing. I’m happy to be part of it. And either way, it’s a positive.”
Other cuts include Jake Arrieta, Fredy Deza, Ryan Keefer, Adam Donachie, Jose Reyes and Craig Brazell. The Orioles also announced after the game that they were also reassigning first-round draftee Brian Matusz, Troy Patton, David Hernandez, Chorye Spoone and Jim Hoey to their Minor League camp in Sarasota, wrapping up the first round of cuts.
The Orioles got their Spring Training slate underway on Tuesday, when they played a highly informal exhibition game against Team Italy that wasn’t even marked on the schedule. Baltimore had originally planned to play an intrasquad game but reconsidered at the request of Italian manager Marco Mazzieri, who is a friend of Orioles manager Dave Trembley.
Trembley let that friendship dictate his roster decisions, and he played a combination of lightly tested big-leaguers and highly touted prospects. Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman both pitched scoreless innings for the Orioles, and Matt Wieters started behind the plate.
Utilityman Donnie Murphy drove in the first run with a double, and Craig Brazell later made it a three-run game with a bloop single to center field. Baltimore will get its exhibition season started in earnest on Wednesday with a game against the Mets at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
The Orioles have released their pitching plans for Tuesday’s exhibition game against Team Italy, and there won’t be a soft arm in the bunch. Baltimore plans on pitching its best prospects against Italy, headlined by first round draftee Brian Matusz.
Matusz, who has never pitched in a full-season professional league, will work one inning. He’ll be followed by Troy Patton, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Wilfrido Perez, David Hernandez and Jim Hoey. Bergesen is the only pitcher scheduled to work two innings.
Only two of those eight pitchers — Patton and Hoey — have ever pitched in the Majors. Top prospect Matt Wieters is expected to catch, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Baltimore prospects Jeff Fiorentino and Mike Costanzo are expected to play for Italy.