Britton on debuting..

As soon as Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee closed his glove on the final out of the Orioles’ 4-1 Opening Day win over the Tampa Bay Rays, top pitching prospect Zach Britton’s phone went off: he was getting the call to join Baltimore.

“I expected to be in [Triple-A] Norfolk for the next 20 days,” said Britton, who was still in a state of shock over Friday night’s events, which included putting starter Brian Matusz on the 15-day disabled list with an intracostal muscle strain. “I expected to be the last guy coming up.”

But with Matusz sidelined anywhere from 3-6 weeks and the instability in the O’s rotation with Justin Duchscherer on the DL (left hip soreness), Brad Bergesen (right forearm strain) still getting back his arm strength and Chris Tillman posting an uneven spring, the Orioles no longer have the luxury of keeping the 23-year-old Britton from accruing service time.

A full story will be up on Orioles.com shortly, but here’s some of what Britton had to say…

“I have a lot of confidence for Sunday,” said Britton, who admitted to being “nervous as hell” following his first Major League Spring Training game against the Phillies.

“Obviously my adrenaline is going to be going. It’s not going to be like [facing] Philly. Multiply that by 200 times and it’ll be something like that. Not to make anybody worried about me out there. I just think it’s stupid to think I’m not going to nervous. But I have a lot of confidence that I can get the job done.”

Britton, who threw a bullpen on Thursday, will pack his things and head to St. Petersburg on Saturday and will probably get some long toss in at Tropicana Field. He had touched base with pitching coach Mark Connor already and said he’s going to try to carry over some of momentum he had this spring –where he posted a staff best 1.35 ERA — into Sunday.

“I think it’s good that I’m throwing now,” Britton said of the timing of his Major League debut.

“Since I just got done with Spring Training just got done facing the Tigers Opening Day lineup, minus I think one hitter, I’m really excited.”

Britton watched the Orioles game on television from Sarasota, and got to see Jeremy Guthrie put up eight scoreless innings against the Rays in Friday’s win. He said he likes the challenge of keeping the ball rolling. Now, in less than two days, he’ll make his debut.

“I’ve got a lot to live up to,” Britton said. ““I’m really excited, and I’m going to do my best.”

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