As the Orioles look to work their way back into first place in the American League East, they’ll soon be joined by a pair of key players that have been on the disabled list, per MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Baltimore’s top starter, Chris Tillman, is slated to throw one final bullpen session on Friday before making a return to the rotation against the Tigers on Sunday. Notably, manager Buck Showalter said that no one will come out of the rotation when Tillman returns, as Baltimore will instead go with a six-man starting staff. Meanwhile, setup man Darren O’Day, who has been out since early August with a rotator cuff strain, threw 26 pitches today and felt good. Like Tillman, he’s lined up for a Friday bullpen session, but he’ll require a few days of rest and then a simulated game before he’s cleared to return. The Orioles are hoping that will happen at some point next week, per Kubatko.
A couple more items from the division…
- The Rays have dismissed longtime hitting coach Derek Shelton and promoted minor league hitting coordinator Chad Mottola to take his place, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Shelton had served as Tampa Bay’s hitting coach for the past seven seasons and spent five years as the Indians’ hitting coach prior to that. The timing of the move is somewhat strange, Topkin points out, but the thought process behind the switch is to allow Mottola to begin building his rapport with the Rays’ hitters as soon as possible. Mottola will serve as the team’s hitting coach at least through the end of the 2017 season, he adds. President of baseball ops Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash indicated to Topkin that perhaps Shelton’s message had grown stale. Said Silverman: “…the connections with the players, we think that there is a possibility and a hope that some of that can improve with a different person in that chair, with a different voice, different relationships, a fresh start.”
- Chad Green won’t pitch again for the Yankees this season, but the rookie right-hander looks to have emerged relatively unscathed from a potential brush with Tommy John surgery, writes Chad Jennings of the Journal News. Green has a strained flexor tendon, but exams by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad revealed that there was no damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. Green will spend the next several weeks rehabbing his flexor injury but is anticipating a normal offseason and plans to be ready for Spring Training. Acquired in the offseason trade that sent Justin Wilson to the Tigers, Green made his big league debut this season with the Yankees. While he posted very strong strikeout and walk rates (10.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9), the 25-year-old also had an issue with homers, surrendering 12 long balls in just 45 2/3 innings. The result was a 4.73 ERA, though metrics like xFIP and SIERA, which normalize a pitcher’s homer-to-flyball rate, feel that Green should’ve been in the 3.60 to 3.70 range in his brief sample.