SARASOTA, Fla. - Left-hander Zach Britton knows what’s coming. It isn’t necessarily fair, but he’s heard enough chatter to know that he’s going to be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Britton talked about today’s outing, and eventually, the likelihood that he’ll begin the season in the minors.
“In the fourth inning, I was trying to do a little bit too much, but I was happy to minimize damage in both (the fourth and fifth) innings, and I think that’s big, too,” he said. “I thought that was a real good test and I thought I did pretty well.”
Britton allowed three runs in 20 official spring innings. He also tossed five scoreless in a minor league game.
Did he show the Orioles what he can do?
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Coming in, they told me it was a competition. I was going to work on stuff, but at the same time I knew it was competition and I felt like I came out here and competed and gave myself a good chance to make the team. I guess we will see what happens after today. Obviously, I know the rumors and stuff, so you know, when they tell me to my face, I guess we will see how it goes.
“This was a great experience. I’m really happy (manager Buck Showalter) threw me against some good lineups. Or not necessarily just good lineups, but being able to face the big league teams that I’m going to face in the AL East this year. I think that’s a big confidence booster that I can go up there and compete. I felt like I can hang right up there with everybody.”
Britton admitted that it’s frustrating to have the odds stacked against him in camp despite his impressive numbers.
“Yeah, it’s very frustrating, because as an athlete you compete and you feel like you deserve to be somewhere,” he said. “When you’re not, it’s kind of a slap in the face, I think. But there’s a business side of the game, and those guys are hired to go out there and make business decisions. I go out there to pitch and do it well. Like I said, it’s frustrating, but it is what it is. I’ve got to take what they’re going to give me after this game.”
More from Britton:
“I’ve been working really this whole spring on my mechanics. I changed the whole way I throw with Goose (Mark Connor). I know a lot of guys did, too, but it didn’t really affect my results. I think I caught on pretty quick. I changed my changeup grip. Really, I was improving on a lot of stuff.
“Really, just picking up the tempo a little bit and making good pitches in tough
situations was really my focus this offseason and spring.”
Britton also talked about the importance of staying mentally strong at Norfolk.
“I was in this situation last year, too, in September. I’ve been through this a couple different times, so I kind of know how to handle it. I’m not the type of guy that’s going to go out there and complain about where I am. I’m not going to like it, but I’ll go out there and pitch because it doesn’t help me or the organization if I go down to Triple-A and pout. I’m not going to get up here any quicker. I need to go out there and get people out, whether I’m in Norfolk or Baltimore. But obviously I’d be a little happier if I’m in Baltimore.”