Britton dealing with inflammation in shoulder, but MRI negative

Orioles pitcher Zach Britton said he's been dealing with inflammation in his left shoulder since the middle of December, but an MRI didn't reveal any structural damage and he isn't concerned about his availability for the April 6 opener if he makes the team.

Britton will play catch from 90 feet Thursday and throw again on Saturday if his shoulder responds favorably.

"They want to make sure I get into my arm slot," he said. "It's not a strength issue. The strength in my shoulder is really, really good. It's just that the inflammation is kind of hindering me getting in my proper throwing slot."

Asked if he'll be ready on opening day, Britton replied, "Oh yeah, definitely. I don't see why not. Obviously, tomorrow will be a good test. If it feels good tomorrow, I don't see why I wouldn't be ready to go when the (exhibition) games start. Maybe I'll be a couple bullpens behind the other guys, but nothing that should hinder me from completing for a job."

Since Britton lives in Texas, the Orioles allowed him to be examined by Dr. Keith Meister, who's affiliated with the Rangers. The MRI came back clean besides showing the inflammation.

"It was something obviously when I had my left shoulder strain last year," said Britton, who also was examined by Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens. "The inflammation built up over time. I thought going into the offseason it would calm down with rest, but once I started throwing again the inflammation was still there. I started doing physical therapy and working out in the Rangers' place. I've been throwing long toss every other day. When I tried throwing back to back days is when the inflammation kicked in and I started to get the discomfort again."

Britton began taking anti-inflammatory medication again and said his shoulder "feels good now." He took off a couple days and will test it Thursday.

Yet another story line to follow in Sarasota.

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