What’s happening: Zach Britton is pitching again.
That was the big news from Tuesday’s 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium.
The All-Star closer had not pitched in a game since Oct. 2, when he threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in last year’s regular-season finale (he didn’t pitch in the playoff game, I’ve been told).
He had been shelved this spring due to soreness in his left side/oblique area. He finally received the green light Tuesday.
In the fourth inning, Britton made his 2017 debut. It wasn’t memorable.
He allowed two runs on four hits – all singles – while recording three outs, two by strikeout. Afterward Orioles manager Buck Showalter praised his sinkerballer for getting the Rays to beat the ball on the ground. A few of those balls, though, found spots.
“Zach was good today, that was good to see,” Showalter said. “He was really good … ground balls, broken bats, swinging bunts.”
Britton wasn’t as enthused.
“Throwing strikes was the biggest thing, and then seeing balls on the ground was what I wanted to see,” Britton said. “Overall, I feel OK. Physically, I felt good. In (the) spring, you don’t care about results. But I do. I wasn’t too happy about it.”
That declaration didn’t surprise Showalter.
“He never is (content),” the manager said. “These guys, they’re not just out there getting the work in, and (thinking), ‘My stuff will be there when the bell rings.’ They like to get people out. They take a lot of pride in it.”
What happened: The Orioles got Britton back, and shortstop J.J. Hardy (back) played on consecutive days, but now another member of the projected, 25-man roster is sidelined.
Showalter announced Tuesday that utility infielder Ryan Flaherty has been dealing with a sore right shoulder and received a cortisone shot Monday. Flaherty will not play for a few days, but Showalter said he doesn’t believe the injury is serious at this point.
The most talked about shoulder in camp is apparently slowly improving. Showalter said starter Chris Tillman, who was shut down Sunday with shoulder soreness before throwing a scheduled bullpen session, felt better Tuesday than he did on Monday.
The club and Tillman have not decided what the next step is, but Showalter is cautiously encouraged by the daily reports on Tillman.
With mighty gusts of wind swirling through Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday, the Orioles managed to hit three home runs, one each by Chris Dickerson, Joey Rickard and Paul Janish.
Janish hasn’t hit a big-league homer in the regular season since 2010.
Tampa Bay minor league catcher Jonah Heim was 2-for-2 with one RBI on Tuesday. Heim is a former Orioles prospect whom the club traded to the Rays last July for Steve Pearce. Heim, known more for his glove than bat, has four hits in eight Grapefruit League at-bats.
What’s up with: Wade Miley. The lefty starter made his fourth appearance in Grapefruit League action, and Tuesday’s performance wasn’t nearly as good as last week’s, when he threw three scoreless innings against Toronto.
On Tuesday, Miley allowed three runs in three innings on seven hits and a walk. He minimized the damage; all seven hits were singles. Showalter said after the game that Miley was battling illness, but felt strong enough to pitch.
Miley has now allowed seven earned runs in nine spring innings as he readies for his spot in the rotation.
What they’re saying: “It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great. Just kind of somewhere in the middle.” — Miley on his outing Tuesday.
What’s the number? 19 – That’s how many hits the Rays’ split-squad team had against the Orioles. Sixteen of those were singles; three were doubles. Each of the five Orioles pitchers surrendered at least two hits.
What’s the record? 10-7-1 – Tuesday’s loss was just the second for the Orioles since March 4. They travel to Bradenton today to face the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ubaldo Jimenez starts for the Orioles and Jameson Taillon pitches for the Pirates.
Note: Dan Connolly is handling the Spring Training Primer for a week. Rich Dubroff will pick it up again next Thursday.