Roberts and Britton progressing

SARASOTA, Fla. - Once restricted to stretching exercises and playing catch, Brian Roberts is now taking ground balls at second base and batting practice in the indoor batting cage.

"It's definitely part of the progression," he said. "Every day that goes by and you don't feel worse, you're encouraged for sure."

The next step is taking live batting practice on the field against one of the pitchers, instead of a coach.

"At some point coming up, hopefully," he said. "I talk to my doctor every night and we kind of lay out a plan for the next day."

Also, left-hander Zach Britton threw 25 fastballs off a regular mound today in his first bullpen session. He started out on the edge of the mound before moving up.

"Yesterday I threw off a half mound, so I knew the angle wasn't going to be too bad when I got off this mound, so I felt pretty good," he said. "I felt in sync. Still a little awkward on the mound because I hadn't been on one before, but I think it was a good first step.

"I was throwing strikes. I think there were three mishaps, two balls I bounced and one that kind of cut on me a little bit. Probably the best first bullpen in a long time. Normally, you're first bullpen is pretty bad, but I felt pretty good today. I wasn't sore at all when I threw off the mound or when I was done, so I think tomorrow I'll be fine."

Britton will throw more pitches in Monday's bullpen session, and he'll probably work in his changeup.

"Depends how I feel tomorrow, and obviously the toss that I do on Saturday and Sunday," he said.

Britton threw 10 pitches off the half mound yesterday.

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