Tillman's day ends early with right elbow stiffness

Tillman's day ends early with right elbow stiffness

BALTIMORE -- An already unstable Orioles rotation took a hit Sunday afternoon when pitcher Chris Tillman exited after three innings with right elbow stiffness.

"I wouldn't say it's a pain [in the area]," said Tillman, who will travel back to Baltimore to undergo an MRI. "It just feels achy and dead. I've dealt with it before in [bullpen sessions], and you kind of manage it and kind of get your work in. But during a start, you've got to go out there and give it your best. It's one of those things where you don't want to make it worse. I'll go get it checked out, just in case."

Featuring a fastball in the upper 80s, a dip in his typical velocity, Tillman looked out of sorts from the onset and issued a walk in each of the first two innings, with Chris Dickerson belting a two-run homer two outs into the second.

"He has been so consistent with his velocity early in the game, and you could tell early on that he was really laboring," manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman. "I talked to him after the third inning and didn't like what I was seeing. ... Hopefully it was just a one-time thing."

Tillman said his elbow stiffness started from the beginning of the game and the area gradually got tighter. He entered Sunday's game with 150 2/3 innings pitched, well under a career-high 175 innings thrown in 2010, and afterward he said he didn't think the issue would keep him out of the team's rotation.

"We did a couple tests with the trainers, and they said it looked really good," Tillman said. "But I'll head to Baltimore tonight and get an MRI, hopefully tomorrow. It's just kind of a 'just in case' thing."

Tillman entered Sunday's start 6-1 with a 3.67 ERA in his last eight starts, posting five quality outings over that stretch, including Tuesday's seven-inning start in which he held the White Sox to just one hit. He exited after throwing 44 pitches, 21 strikes, with the Orioles in a 2-0 hole. Baltimore rallied back for an 8-3 win, with reliever Randy Wolf replacing Tillman and going 3 1/3 innings in his Baltimore debut.

"I was kind of down on myself coming out of that game, but Randy picked me up huge," Tillman said. "And what a series Mark [Reynolds] had. That was fun to watch. I'm just glad we got the win today."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.