Tillman gets solid reviews after strong three-inning effort against Red Sox

     SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Chris Tillman pitched the middle three innings of Sunday's exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium and may have opened some eyes.

     He pitched to the minimum nine batters, gave up one hit and needed just 37 pitches to get through a fairly representative Red Sox lineup. His fastball, according to pitching coach Rick Adair, touched 95 miles per hour.

     "I thought he attacked the strike zone with his fastball,'' said manager Buck Showalter. "Last year, sometimes he'd come out there and be at 88 or 90 and he was frustrated. Then, all of the sudden, it pops up. His delivery has been more consistent. He's throwing downhill. His fastball is allowing him to do some other things.

      "Chris is not scared. He's a competitor. I like a lot of things about him. This guy competes. There's a lot more to him than may meet the eye with some people."

      Showalter said that Tillman has gotten stronger since last year, which shouldn't be surprising since he did a lot of weight work and conditioning with Brady Anderson over the winter.

      "There's a little different look about him, as far as there's not any 'deer in the headlights' with him. I think he knows the gig and you can tell he's a lot more comfortable in this environment. Now, it's just about pitching better. He's one of the younger guys in camp. I think he's grown a lot from last year to this year."

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