Britton update, Flaherty on shoulder and Gentry on return

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Closer Zach Britton will pitch Saturday in a relief role at Single-A Delmarva instead of working the first inning. The Orioles want him to get into the proper mindset.

Manager Buck Showalter indicated that Britton could pitch Monday at Double-A Bowie and make back-to-back appearances later in the week. Britton would complete his injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Norfolk.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty has a locker in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field. He came over from the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, where he's been rehabbing his right shoulder.

flaherty-throwing-sidebar.jpgFlaherty hasn't been cleared to resume throwing.

"I'm better each day," he said. "It's a process, as much mentally as it is physically. You take it day-by-day at this point. Just trying to get some strength back in it before I throw."

Flaherty had been extended beyond 60 feet in his games of catch before the Orioles nixed it. The discomfort returned to the shoulder, an issue since the early days of spring training.

"It wasn't necessarily a setback, but I probably wasn't ready to throw quite yet," he said. "I need to get some strength in there before, so rather than push it through that, they wanted me to get some strength in it. And that's kind of where I'm at right now, just day-to-day, just trying to build some strength and hopefully get through this quicker."

Flaherty is probably looking at a return following the All-Star break.

"I would hope. I would have hoped to be back by now," he said. "It's a weird injury where the lat is way up there at the top, and just trying to get it to heal and hopefully one of these days soon I'll be able to throw."

At least Flaherty is back with the team for a few days. It gets lonely in Sarasota, though pitcher Mike Wright recently joined him. Rule 5 outfielder Anthony Santander also is working out and rehabbing at the complex.

Flaherty knows the Orioles are scuffling. He doesn't need to be around his teammates to get a lay of the land.

"I think it's tough for everyone involved," he said, "but in the grand scheme of things, it's been a bad stretch, but it's still right here. So just grind through it and push through the door."

Outfielder Craig Gentry walked through the doors at Camden Yards on Tuesday after the Orioles selected his contract from Norfolk. He started in center field last night and reached base three times.

As you'd imagine, Gentry said he's "excited" to be back. It's the standard opening question for any player who's recalled or has his contract selected.

"It's what you want to do when you play baseball. You want to be in the big leagues," he said.

"It's nice to get back here and be with the guys and hopefully help the team win. That's what's most important right now."

The Orioles outrighted Gentry on May 16 while activating catcher Welington Castillo from the disabled list. He had no idea when he'd come back. They didn't lay out a timetable for him.

"I was actually surprised when I got called back up, so yeah, I really didn't know," he said. "It's good to be back, and definitely when you're older and you've had a taste of the big leagues, you always want to be back there, so it's definitely good."

Gentry knew he was vulnerable to being designated and outrighted.

"I was playing in a lot of games, but at the same time I knew we couldn't keep going low on bullpen guys," he said. "I knew there was a move that was going to need to be made, and I had a feeling that it was going to be me, so it wasn't a complete surprise."

Gentry dodged an injury last night after being hit by a pitch in the midsection while squaring to bunt. He dropped to the dirt and was in obvious pain as head athletic trainer Richie Bancells checked on him.

"It just hit me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me a little bit and definitely scared me a little bit, too, at the same time," he said. "But I'm good to go. No problems there."

Watching the Orioles lose also has been painful. They got off to a good start, going 22-10 while Gentry was on the roster, but they've lost 11 of 15.

"I think we've just got to keep trying to stay positive and going out and just playing hard," he said. "That's all you can do. This game has so much negativity around it; if you fall into that it just makes it that much harder to win ballgames and makes it that much more miserable. I think that if we can just stick with who we are and try to go out and have fun and keep playing hard, I think eventually this thing will turn around, because this team's too good for it not to."

The Red Sox signed veteran pitcher Doug Fister, who drew interest from the Orioles after he opted out of his minor league deal with the Angels. I noted a few days ago that they checked video of him from Triple-A Salt Lake and discussed whether he would be an upgrade over their rotation candidates.

Fister definitely has supporters in the organization and his name always comes up when he's available.

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