Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, in what is likely was his last test before re-joining the big league rotation, threw three innings against Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A players Tuesday and felt no pain in his sore abdomen.
"Felt good. It was a good step in the right direction," he said.
Tillman, who hadn't pitched in a big league spring training game since March 3, pitched for the second time this week at the Twin Lakes minor league complex and said he expects to get back on his regular turn next time out. If he pitches on four days of rest, he'd likely be scheduled for Sunday in Bradenton.
"I don't think I am far behind. I think that's why I threw on two days rest today to get back on schedule," said Tillman who retired eight of the 10 batters he faced. "That was the main part of it. I'm glad I'm back on schedule."
Tillman walked the first batter of the game – which can be altered by pitch counts and outs to allow pitchers to reach a certain workload – and then gave up a one-out RBI double before his first inning was halted because he had gotten to his 15-pitch limit. He threw two more innings, including a four-out third, and retired all seven batters.
He threw 46 pitches, 30 for strikes. He was having some difficulty locating his curveball in the first inning, but it was particularly sharp by the third.
"That breaking ball has behind the whole spring. I knew what I needed to do," said Tillman, who has been pain-free for about a week. "I've just been kind of babying it and I knew I wanted to go out there and throw some first pitches for strikes. Felt good about it at the end."
Dylan Bundy – the club's top prospect, who was sent out of major league camp Saturday – had an inauspicious beginning to minor league camp. He allowed a homer on his first pitch to the Rays' Double-A leadoff hitter Tuesday.
He laughed about it after his outing.
"Yeah, that first pitch home run, that was right down the middle. I was trying to get ahead of the count," he said smiling. "You don't see that very often."
Bundy was somewhat shaky in the first two innings, giving up another run in the second. But he settled down in the third, when he said he felt like he had much stronger command of his pitches.
"The third inning was better. Third inning, I was really in the bottom half of my zone especially with my curveball," he said. "I threw a lot more for strikes in that third inning than the first two. It's nice going more than two innings now. I can get the feel of pitches and work through some other stuff."
Bundy said he hasn't been told how much he'll be limited in starts this season at Double-A Bowie, but he'd like to get to a total of 160 regular season innings, if possible. From Low-A to the majors last year, he threw 105 1/3 innings.
"They haven't really said anything. I am sure they will [limit the innings]," he said. "I don't know what the goal is totally, hopefully 160 but I doubt it."