Showalter on Britton's rehab and more (Castillo scratched)

TORONTO - Before his team meets Toronto in the final game of a three-game series tonight, Orioles manager Buck Showalter provided another positive report on Orioles closer Zach Britton.

Britton pitched the fourth inning today for Double-A Bowie in a win over Altoona. He got a groundout and two strikeouts on 14 pitches with eight strikes.

"He got the win," Showalter said. "He got the lineup card. I started to ask him when was the last time he got a win at Double-A? No, it went well and he felt good. He'll pitch late in the game tomorrow at (Single-A) Frederick."

Showalter said that in what will be Britton's last rehab outing on Monday at Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles may have Britton pitch during two innings. Under that scenario, he would come on to get the last out of one inning and then pitch the next one.

zach-britton-white-point.jpgSo far, in five rehab outings for three different affiliates, Britton has pitched five innings, allowing three hits and one run with two walks and six strikeouts. By the way, Britton's last win for Bowie came on May 26, 2012 at Prince George's Stadium against the same team he faced today, Altoona.

The Orioles should soon have all of their top late-inning relievers back together for the same game with Britton expected to be activated from the disabled list on July 5.

"I don't want to jinx us right now," Showalter said of that possibility. "I don't know how many games we've played with all of them this year. Usually, what happens, especially when you talk a lot about it, you add one and lose another. No, it will be nice. It's a difference-maker just to have Darren (O'Day) back.

"It is hard to do those jobs in baseball. You see failure all over the game with it. It's hard to do and piece together a chain for three or four innings. But it does keep you from having to use the same guy every night. It will give us the ability to pass the load around."

Showalter said right-hander Chris Tillman remains listed to start tomorrow night at home against Tampa Bay. Tillman's wife has not yet given birth to the couple's first child. If Tillman had to leave the team before Friday's game, right-hander Dylan Bundy would move up from his scheduled Saturday start to pitch in the series opener.

Showalter said minor league right-hander Hunter Harvey will throw another bullpen session tomorrow and his progression in returning from Tommy John surgery continues to go well.

The skipper pointed out today that catcher Caleb Joseph was taking ground balls at third base in batting practice. And Joseph was not just messing around.

"See who our backup infielder is today over at third base? Caleb is pretty good," Showalter said. "He reminded me how much he's played the infield. We've asked him to make sure he's ready. We've had a couple of situations that came close to happening. He's pretty good over there."

No we don't know which situations would lead the Orioles to use Joseph at third but he's getting ready just in case.

Castillo scratched: Just before first pitch, it was announced that Joseph will now catch and not Welington Castillo. We have not yet heard why Castillo was scratched, but he's been on the DL twice this year, once due to right shoulder tendinitis and once with a testicular injury. Joseph will bat seventh, where Castillo had been listed.

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