Updates on Britton, Tillman, O’Day and more

Orioles closer Zach Britton faced a hitter today for the first time since his Achilles surgery in December and will throw a simulated game early next week in Chicago.

Outfielder Craig Gentry stood in the cage while Britton threw 15 pitches. His audience included manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Roger McDowell, bullpen coach Alan Mills, team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs, head athletic trainer Brian Ebel and special assignment pitching instructor Ramon Martinez.

“I just faced Gentry, which was good just to kind of get a hitter in there who was swinging,” Britton said afterward. “You get a little bit of a read where you’re at. I was happy. Threw some good sinkers, spun a couple of breaking balls. Just another step in the right direction.”

Thumbnail image for zach-britton-black-side.pngBritton will take off two days and throw another batting practice session, increasing his pitch count to 30.

“Probably two innings,” he said. “Throw 15, sit down, throw another 15. And the goal is get the delivery where I want it to be, continue to feel good with the sinker and breaking ball. Things you would do in the spring. Just continue to get a feel for my pitches, command the ball, things like that.

“The injury stuff is hopefully in the past and we don’t have to deal with it now. Now, it’s just about getting back to helping the team.”

A rehab assignment could begin during the next homestand.

“I’ve got one more live BP, a few sim games and we’ll sit down and talk again, but pretty soon,” he said. “It’s right around the corner.”

Manager Buck Showalter mentioned a few days ago that the Orioles slowly are getting “the band back together” with injured players returning to the active roster, including second baseman Jonathan Schoop and outfielder Mark Trumbo. The club has won five of its last six games.

“I think it’s a comfort thing more than anything,” Britton said. “We’ve played together for a really long time now, a lot of the guys in the clubhouse. That core group has been together for a while. A lot of us came up to the big leagues together, so we have those relationships and those friendships. But it takes the young guys coming up and doing a good job, too. You can get as many of the core guys back, but you’ve got to have the young guys step up and we’re seeing that.”

Chris Tillman will head to Sarasota on Wednesday. He’s on the disabled list with a strained lower back.

Reliever Darren O’Day won’t come off the disabled list Wednesday when eligible, but he’s getting close. He threw yesterday and will do so again on Wednesday while recovering from a hyperextended right elbow.

Triple-A Norfolk infielder Engelb Vielma was supposed to undergo surgery today on his fractured kneecap, but it’s been delayed to allow for more healing.

The Orioles outrighted newly acquired infielder Renato Núñez to Norfolk after he cleared waivers. The 40-man roster is down to 39 players.

Núñez was claimed off waivers from the Rangers on Sunday.

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