This tweet arrived on my BlackBerry this morning, and it gives an indication as to why Chris Tillman is headed for Norfolk instead of Baltimore next week:
Tillman: "If I were 2 stick w/ my fastball, change, curve it woulda been a totally different outcome, results-wise." worked on cutter insteadNow, the immediate reaction might be to say "Well, that's dumb. If you want to make the team, you need to try and pitch your best." However, over the long run, Tillman is likely to be a better pitcher if he can master the cutter. Should a 22-year old prospect on a team staring up at what might well be the three best teams in baseball work on his cutter and risk starting the year in Norfolk, or should he try get outs any way possible? Yeah, I'm voting for the former. I hope the team has communicated to him, though, that his promotion depends not on "outcomes" but on his progression in mastering the cutter and the strike zone. We know that he can get AAA hitters out with his three traditional pitches, and if that's his focus in April, he'll likely do so again. Still, this is just another reason that we should all take spring training results and statistics with a giant mine of salt, and one more indication that his starting the year in Norfolk is far from the end of the world.