SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are holding a normal workout today before Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. Defensive drills, batting practice, a few bullpen sessions.
Nolan Reimold said he feels good after entering yesterday’s intrasquad game in the third inning. Reimold and manager Buck Showalter are confident that the outfielder won’t experience any physical issues this spring after his disc surgery. It’s just a matter of building up strength in his left shoulder.
Conor Jackson hit in the cage this morning and will take batting practice on Saturday as he nears a return from the lower-back soreness that interrupted a recent workout.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “No setbacks.”
Showalter confirmed yesterday that left-hander Zach Britton will start Saturday against the Twins. Pitching coach Rick Adair informed Britton of the club’s decision following yesterday’s workout.
“I guess you can read as much or as little as you want it it,” Britton said. “It’s kind of just, hey, we have a lot of guys. They’re probably lining some guys up to do different things, maybe get some more innings. I’m just happy to be starting a game and get some innings in.
“Hopefully, I’ll command the ball. I think this early, you just figure out a couple things you want to do in a game and go execute those. And the results, you obviously want them to be good because you’re competing for a spot, but you also want to make sure you’re getting ready for the season.
“You obviously want to set a good tone for the camp and for the games starting and everything like that. So, yeah, you want to go out there and be the first guy, but like I said, you can’t read a whole lot into that, because they’re probably saving some guys, resting some guys and we’ve got a bunch of guys, so you’ve got to line them up any way you can. I’m sure he has a plan behind what he’s doing.”
There’s no denying the personal satisfaction that Britton feels after what he endured last spring. He was brought along slowly because of a sore left shoulder and in March received two injections of a platelet-rich plasma that renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews recommended to him after studying the results of an MRI.
“I feel good and that’s a huge step,” Britton said. “The confidence behind it plays a big factor. Just going out there and executing pitches. Even in the intrasquad the other day, I felt good. I was attacking the zone. I think I threw one ball out of my 14 pitches, which is huge. I had command of the ball, right where it needed to be and that was the big thing I was worried about the other day. Now I’m like, ‘Hey, I can command the ball.’
“Everything’s feeling good, so let’s keep it going in games and attack the hitters.”
Britton allowed a run in Wednesday’s instrasquad game, but he mostly threw fastballs, tabling the rest of his repertoire. Nate McLouth jumped on the first pitch and doubled off the left-center field fence, and he later scored on Brian Roberts’ single.
“I threw two off-speed pitches, two sliders, and that was it. Everything was fastballs,” Britton said. “Nate hits the very first pitch off the wall. You tip your cap to him. We were joking around. But they were ready to go. They wanted to hit. They had a golf tourney later, so everyone was swing-happy.
“B-Rob actually hit a good pitch, I thought. Maybe I could have executed it a little better, but it’s early in camp. Other than that, I was commanding the ball good, got ground balls, other than the two hits. I was pleased with that. Obviously, I don’t want to give up any runs, but it was good to see the ground balls coming and my stuff was good.”