CLEARWATER, Fla. - Matt Wieters has three singles and two RBIs today. Felix Pie contributed a run-scoring double in the seventh, and Wieters delivered pinch-runner Nick Green for a 5-1 lead, though an interference call on the third baseman took away the RBI.
Zach Britton walked into the hallway outside the visiting clubhouse, saw the five reporters waiting for him and brought up the elephant in the room.
“Could you tell how nervous I was?” he asked with a grin.
“I have no idea what happened out there today.”
Britton threw two scoreless innings in his first exhibition game, allowing two hits, striking out one and throwing a wild pitch. He threw 33 pitches, 18 for strikes. He also had to take a few deep breaths.
“I was pretty nervous,” Britton said. “Even in the ‘pen I felt it. But it was exciting. It’s good to get it out of the way. I don’t even know what I can take out of this because I was just so nervous. It was all nerves out there.”
Catcher Jake Fox made two trips to the mound and tried to find creative ways to calm Britton, who crossed him up with one pitch.
“He told me a funny joke,” Britton said. “I think he wanted to settle me down. He knew I was excited to be out there, so he told me a funny joke. I don’t even know what joke it was. I wasn’t laughing. I thought we were having a serious conversation. He was like, ‘You can laugh a little bit.’
“I crossed him up on a pitch. He was like, ‘What’s going on out here?’ And I said, ‘I have no idea.’”
Britton isn’t usually nervous on the mound, and that includes his stint in the Futures Game.
“It was exciting, but I’m happy it’s over with,” he said.
“I think when I get out there the next time, I’ll be within myself a little bit more. When I try to overdo things, the ball moves so much, I have no idea where it’s going.”
Britton got four of his six outs on ground balls.
“That at least shows me that the stuff is going to do what it did in the minors. I’m still going to get ground balls, which is a good thing,” he said.
Britton’s strikeout came against Ryan Howard in the third inning.
“The funny thing was, he swung and missed on that first fastball, and I saw him look at me like, that one had some good movement on it. I was like, ‘All right, I know I can pretty much go after him with those.’ I tried to mess around with some sliders and I threw them way too hard. It felt pretty good to see him swing through that last one because it was up in the zone. Thank God he missed it, right?,” Britton said.
Britton’s next outing will likely come against the Yankees or Red Sox. That’s enough to make anyone nervous.