SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Buck Showalter called Chris Tillman into his office to give him an exciting piece of news: The right-hander will be the Baltimore Orioles' opening-day starter against the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Tillman's reaction wasn't exactly overwhelming. According to Showalter, the 25-year-old said, "Thanks," and walked out the door of the manager's office.
His ability to quell his emotions is one reason why Tillman went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA last season and made the AL All-Star team for the first time. Starting the March 31 opener is an accomplishment, but Tillman didn't come close to pumping his fist in the air to mark the occasion.
"He's doesn't waste any time on things like that," Showalter said. "He's a competitive guy. You see a different look on his face on game day. He's been around some good people. He's figured out who he is. He's comfortable in his own skin, and I think he likes people counting on him."
Tillman had a 16-18 career record before his breakthrough 2013 season. Given that this will be only the second time he's been on an opening-day roster, pitching the first game is no small feat.
"Any time you get the chance to get that kind of opportunity it's a big deal," Tillman said. "It's an honor."
Showalter said: "I'm proud of him. He deserves it."
Tillman is the Orioles' fifth different opening-day starter in five-year span. Kevin Millwood started in 2010, followed by Jeremy Guthrie, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel.
Showalter considered newcomer Ubaldo Jimenez, who is older and has more experience. But Tillman got the nod, in part as a reward for last season and because the Orioles will be counting on him to get this season started the right way.