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Ankle fine, Tillman set to face Blue Jays

Ankle fine, Tillman set to face Blue Jays

Ankle fine, Tillman set to face Blue Jays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman came through Sunday's bullpen session with no issues and he remains on track to start Tuesday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tillman tweaked his ankle covering third base in Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Red Sox, but it hasn't been a problem in his between-starts regimen, and the staff ace should eclipse the 200-inning mark Tuesday for the first time in his career.

"I think the statistics snuck up on some people, but how well he's pitching didn't and how well he's capable of it in our circles," said manager Buck Showalter. "It's been quality. Some guys get 200 innings just by showing up. There are certain statistics you can accumulate in the Major Leagues just by playing every day and pitching every fifth day.

"Tilly's just been, you can see it in his face. He's pretty confident. I think he feels good that people feel good about him, if that makes any sense. If he gets in a little bind early in the game, he's not feeling that, 'What's going to happen now?' He's got a track record."

Tillman, a late addition to the American League All-Star squad, has pitched a staff-leading 194 1/3 innings and had thrown 266 2/3 frames combined in parts of four seasons prior to 2013. If the Orioles, who entered Monday 4 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card race, are out of contention by Sunday, Tillman won't make his final start, so Tuesday could be the final outing of a career year. The 25-year-old is 16-7 with a 3.70 ERA and has performed particularly well on the road.

"Sooner or later, guys do have to be their own coaches out there and know what works and what doesn't work," Showalter said. "And he's gotten stronger, he's gotten bigger. ... I think he weighs more than he ever has in his life."

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.

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