Britton on his outing and his chances
Orioles lefty Zach Britton held the Tigers to two runs over six innings and allowed three earned runs in 20 official spring innings. He pitched to a staff-best 1.35 ERA in his first big league camp.
Still, the O’s top pitching prospect knows he’s likely headed to Triple-A to start the season, as the team would prefer to keep him down there until April 21 to delay his service clock and keep him under team control until 2017.
While the 23-year-old Britton said he understood, he’s also admitted it’s frustrating to have the deck stacked against you.
“Because as an athlete you compete and you feel like you deserve to be somewhere and you are not, it’s kind of a slap in the face I think,” Britton said. “But there’s a business side of the game, and those guys are hired to go out there and make business decisions. I go out there to pitch and do it well. Like I said it’s frustrating, but it is what it is.”
Like many of the Orioles other pitchers, Britton reworked his delivery with pitching coach Mark Connor. He also changed the grip on his changeup and has been pleased with the results. When asked if it was going to be hard to stay mentally sharp should he start in Norfolk, Britton didn’t think so.
“I was in this situation last year too, in September,” Britton said, referring to the fact that he didn’t get a shot with the O’s in last season’s expanded rosters.
“I’ve been through this a couple different times so I kind of know how to handle it. I’m not the type of guy that’s going to go out there and complain about where I am. I’m not going to like it but I’ll go out there and pitch because it doesn’t help me or the organization if I go down to Triple-A and pout. I’m not going to get up here any quicker. I need to go out there and get people out whether I’m in Norfolk or Baltimore. But obviously I’d be a little happier if I’m in Baltimore.
The organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, Britton has come a long way since his first outing in Clearwater, where he was nearly shaking with nerves on the mound.
“This was a great experience,” Britton said. “I’m really happy [manager Buck Showalter] threw me against some good lineups. Or [not] necessarily just good lineups, but being able to face the big league teams that I’m going to face in the AL east this year. I think that’s a big confidence booster that I can go up there and compete. I felt like I can hang right up there everybody.”