Britton optioned to Double-A Bowie (with MacPhail quotes)

The Orioles found a way to reduce Zach Britton's innings, at least on the major league level.

Britton will be optioned to Double-A Bowie to make room for Mark Hendrickson on the 25-man roster.

Didn't see that one coming.

Britton is 6-7 with a 4.05 ERA in his rookie season. He's won only once in his last 12 starts, and lasted only two-thirds of an inning last night, allowing seven earned runs (eight total) and six hits. He's given up 17 earned runs (20 total) and 26 hits in his last four starts covering 17 1/3 innings.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that Britton will pitch for Bowie on July 15 against Richmond at Prince George's Stadium, and the left-hander could rejoin the Orioles by July 30. His innings will be limited with the Baysox.

Britton won't use up a year of service time if he spends 20 days in the minors, and being in Bowie will keep him close to the Orioles.

The Orioles get three days off for the All-Star break and don't have a games scheduled on July 21 and 25, so they can tweak their rotation.

"He's been struggling," said president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "His ERA since mid-May is around 6 and a half, if not more. With the All-Star break, it gives us a chance to adjust the rotation and also augment the bullpen. I think it'll be beneficial for him to get a respite."

Britton could miss only one start with the Orioles. His innings will be spread out and enable him to freshen up. He's expected to return by July 30.

"It doesn't have to be that long, but along those lines," MacPhail said.

Having Britton in Bowie will allow him to continue working with pitching coach Rick Adair and throw bullpen sessions at Camden Yards.

The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec first tweeted the Orioles' decision to demote Britton.

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