Chris Tillman said Sunday that the Baltimore Orioles' decision to send him to the bullpen caught him by surprise but he's not upset by the move and is determined to use his time as a reliever to "get better."
Tillman, who is 1-7 with an 8.10 ERA and has gone winless in his past 14 starts, was sent to the bullpen Saturday. Last season he was 16-6 and started the American League wild-card game.
"It's not easy. I've never seen myself in that spot, but you know what? I haven't been pitching well enough and I understand it. I'm not mad. I just need to get better," he told reporters Sunday, according to The Baltimore Sun.
"I'm not going to go down there and mope around. I'm going down there for one reason and one reason only and that's to get better and get back to being who I know I can be. It hasn't gone anywhere. It's not gone. But it's there. I just need to get back to it, and I think finally, we're heading in the right direction."
Manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that he hoped the move to the bullpen will help Tillman, who began the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, in the same way it did Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
Tillman told reporters that his switch from starter to reliever is a move he "didn't see ... coming."
"I mean, I knew something needed to happen. I needed to get back to being me. It wasn't happening starting, so I think it's going to be a good thing. I need to get back," he said, according to the Sun.
Tillman, 29, has never made a relief appearance in the major leagues. He has made 194 starts in nine seasons for the Orioles, going 73-55 with a 4.37 ERA.
He is scheduled to become a free agent after this season.