Results tagged ‘ Zach Britton ’

Britton on his outing

I’ll have a full story up later on, but here’s what Zach Britton had to say following tonight’s start. You can read the details of how it went here.

[on being nervous]
I wasn’t nervous at all. I think the national anthem got a couple laughs out of me. So it broke the ice for everything. I was excited to be out there but I really wasn’t nervous. I was talking to the guys, and they were like, ‘hey, just go after the guys they were no different than the Phillies were.’

I have a lot of respect for what those guys have done  on the field but in between the lines I was like I don’t care who u are I’m going to go after you today. If you beat me, you beat me.

Obviously I heard their names and it was cool to be facing them.  But at the same time, I just picked up matt. And I was like I’m not going to look at those guys. I am going to focus on Matt and making my pitches.

[on his stuff]

It was  good. Me and matt had a talk about throwing some more four-seams, because they were moving lot today and in the Phillies game as well.  It’s tough to throw first pitch strikes when it’s moving like that, but it was good. Got good results.

[on being the night game, which was televised on MASN]

I was really excited. I was trying not to read who was going to play in the lineup. I kind of wanted to gout there and be surprised. I was really excited, obviously I know it was televised so I was just happy I did well. Kind of stuck with what I wanted to do, I wanted to throw threw some changeups I threw one breaking ball today. So just sinkers, four seamers and changeups.

[On Matt Wieters getting a chance to catch him]

He gives good feedback, because he knows these hitters just as well as anybody. So going back to the dugout, in between innings, he was like, ‘Hey, let’s try this,  let’s try that. This is what this guy does.’

So, it was a lot easier for me to go out there and stick with what I wanted to do. Which was throw fastball and get ground balls.

[on not trying to do too much with every outing]
I came in with the mindset to Spring Training, after talking to a lot of guys, was don’t try to impress them too much. There’s certain things that are out of my control. So I came here to try to learn as much as possible. And when I got opportunities like this, it was to try to make the best of them.

Orioles/Yankees lineups and pregame tidbits

The Yankees already have their travel lineup out, so I figured I’d pass it along.Tonight’s game is in prime time,and there’s more regulars from NY than usual in a road spring contest.

Orioles top pitching prospect Zach Britton will take the mound tonight in just his second career outing (first start) facing Major League hitters. You can read about his first outing, against Philadelphia last week, here.

Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Andruw Jones DH
Justin Maxwell LF
Greg Golson CF
Melky Mesa RF
Austin Romine C

SP Sergio Mitre


 Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Luke Scott 1B
vladimir Guerrero DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS

SP Zach Britton

Britton on his first ML spring outing

Orioles pitching prospect Zach Britton admitted he was “nervous as hell” before reporters even got in a question. Here’s the rest of what he had to say about the first time he faced a Major League lineup, this afternoon’s two scoreless inning outing against the Phillies…

[on how he felt]
“I was pretty nervous in the pen I felt it. It was exciting, it was good to get it out of the way. It was all nerves out there so, I’m just happy it went well.

[on what catcher Jake Fox said to him in their mound meeting] He told me a funny joke actually, I think he wanted to settle me down. He knew I was excited to be out there and stuff like that. I don’t even know what joke it was. Because I wasn’t laughing, I thought we were like having a serious conversation, and he was like, ‘You can laugh a little bit’.
[on being nervous for the first time in his career]
“I’ve really never been nervous on a mound. Today was really the first day I was pretty excited and nervous at the same time to get out there, especially [Ryan] Howard coming up the second guy, so it was exciting but I’m happy it’s over with. I feel like those nerves won’t be there the next time.

[On getting Howard to strikeout?] The funny thing is he swung and missed the first fastball, I saw him look at me kind of like [impressed] because I had some pretty good movement on that fastball. So I was like alright well, I know I can pretty much go after him with those. I tried to mess around with some sliders and I tried to throw them way too hard. But it felt pretty good to see him swing through that last one, because it was up in the zone. But thank god he missed right?

[on his lack of command]
“Definitely overthrowing was the thing. But I think when I get out there the next time I’ll be within myself a little bit more. When I try to overdo things the ball moves so much I have no idea where it’s going, so. It was one of those things where I think I threw quite a bit of pitches and not a whole lot of strikes, but I got some ground balls which at least shows me that the stuff is going to do what it did in the Minors. I’m still going to get ground balls which is always a good thing.”

A few other notes (updated)

*Derrek Lee will take batting practice for the first time this spring either Friday or Saturday. Manager Buck Showalter said Lee will be held out of Sunday’s intrasquad game and the first few Grapefruit League contests as well.

“I’m just going to trust him right now,” Showalter said of Lee. “I trust him period but with something like this, no reason to get ahead of ourselves. I know exactly what, not to an at-bat, but a pretty good idea of what he’s going to need. He knows it better than I do. He may think he needs four weeks of at-bats, and there’s always ways to get at-bats.”

*A judge will decide today regarding whether Alfredo Simon will stay in jail or be freed on bail. Even if he is released, Simon still needs to obtain his Visa and it could be a case where he’s not allowed to leave the country yet. Stay tuned for any news on that.

*The Orioles split squad game on Sunday is going to be played at the main Ed Smith Stadium field. Manager Buck Showalter said Wednesday morning that that’s the plan for now.

*Also Zach Britton and Rick VandenHurk will both get starts this spring. Britton and VandenHurk will each piggyback off the initial run-through of the Grapefruit League schedule, which I blogged yesterday. That schedule will flip so that they start a game in the second run-through.  VandenHurk will follow Jeremy Guthrie on Tuesday while Britton will follow Justin Duchscherer on Wednesday.

*There was some confusion regarding what I wrote Monday about where Vladimir Guerrero and Nick Markakis took batting practice. That bp session took place on the practice fields at Ed Smith Stadium complex, not on the main field, which is still being worked on by a construction crew. I got a few questions about that and wanted to clarify in case it wasn’t clear in my story.  

*If you missed it, I had a nice long sit-down with new third baseman Mark Reynolds, who is looking forward to playing healthy and having a fresh start in Baltimore. The full story is up here.

Tidbits on Cal, B-Rob, prospects..

A few quick notes this morning..

*First Facebook and now Twitter. O’s second baseman Brian Roberts is all over the social media landscape these days. You can follow him @1brianroberts (and while you’re at it, follow me @britt_ghiroli)

* will unveil its 50 Top Prospects in tonight’s show on MLB Network. Tune in to see where the Orioles top duo —Zach Britton and Manny Machado — rank among baseball’s budding stars. The show starts at 9 p.m. ET.

*The (Triple-A) International League announced today that Steve Balboni, Wade Boggs, and Cal Ripken, Jr., will be inducted into the circuit’s Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2011. All three players starred in the International League during the early 1980’s, and they now comprise the first Class elected to the IL Hall by a vote of current Hall of Fame members, along with longtime executives, broadcasters, and members of the media.

A National Baseball Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr., who went to be baseball’s “Iron Man”, enjoyed a stellar season playing third base for the Rochester Red Wings in 1981.

He slammed 23 home runs, and of course did not miss any of the team’s 114 games prior to an August call to Baltimore. In 1982 Ripken joined the Orioles full-time, following up his IL Rookie of the Year Award with American League Rookie of the Year honors. He played in every game from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998, establishing an all-time record of 2,632 consecutive games played.

The three inductees have been added to the International League Hall of Fame plaque display. The inductees will be presented with “The Curtain Call” statue during individual enshrinement ceremonies to place during the coming season. The IL Hall of Fame plaque display does not have a permanent home, but rather serves as a traveling testament to the storied legacy of the International League.

Triple-A Norfolk Tides general manager, Dave Rosenfield, and former Tides manager Frank Verdi were both enshrined into the IL Hall of Fame in 2008. Former Tides first baseman, Roberto Petagine was enshrined in 2009.

Talking some 40-man

The Orioles are expected to make a few personnel moves prior to Friday’s midnight deadline for setting rosters in advance of next month’s Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.

The O’s current 40-man roster is at 32, after a pair cleared waivers yesterday, leaving them with room right now to protect an additional eight, although I don’t think they will use all those spots. Keep in mind that clubs can add players through trades or free-agent signings. They can also continue to remove players, but the rules prevent clubs from adding players to their 40-man roster from within their organization after the deadline until the Rule 5 Draft concludes. That Draft is after the Winter Meetings, so it’s conceivable that the Orioles could leave a few spots open, particularly given that there aren’t a wealth of top prospects that need to be protected.

Players are generally eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected after four or five pro seasons – four years for players who were 19 or older when they signed their first pro contract; five years for players who were younger than 19.

Adding top prospect Zach Britton is a near-certainty and fellow pitcher Wynn Pelzer -who the Os got in the deadline trade of Miguel Tejada – is a pretty safe bet as well. You don’t trade for a guy and a few months later leave him exposed, especially since Pelzer -who was listed quite high by Baseball America’s recent ranking of the O’s system – has an arm that projects to be suited to the bullpen, i.e., a quicker route to the Majors.

Others who would need to protected or risk being exposed are: Matt Angle, Ryan Adams, Tyler Henson, Joe Mahoney, Pedro Beato, Billy Rowell, Tim Bascom, Steve Johnson, Pat Egan, Brandon Cooney, Chad Thall, Brandon Waring and Robbie Widlansky.

For more info on the Rule 5 Draft and its potential impact (who could forget the Rays losing Josh Hamilton?)’s Jonathan Mayo has a good story up here.

*I’ve gotten a few questions so here’s my completed unsolicited opinion on the Baltimore Sun’s report that the Orioles asking about the Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett. Tampa Bay reportedly countered by asking about David Hernandez. I don’t like the idea at all, and fortunately, it’s highly unlikely at this point. If you are going to trade a young, cheap arm that hits the upper-90s my thought is you better be getting back a bat. It’s all preliminary talks at this point –the Os also reportedly asked about the Twins SS, J.J. Hardy — but in my opinion, Hernandez is too good of a trade chip to waste on a slight upgrade of Cesar Izturis. Get the power bat first. Package Hernandez, or another young arm with a guy like Felix Pie for a middle-of-the-order bat or a true impact shortstop or starter. Not a potential rental. 

Agree? Disagree? Got a better idea? Let’s hear it. Email me or join the fun on Twitter

Jones, Britton, Tillman notes and Machado update

*Adam Jones is out of the lineup again, although he feels much better. (He made sure I mention that.) Seriously though, he’s having trouble running and really moving around still and will take another day off. 

*Chris Tillman is expected to be recalled as part of September callups, but he likely won’t pitch out of the bullpen and will join the Orioles rotation.

*It’s becoming increasingly less likely that Zach Britton will come up in September. There were reports that he would, and the Orioles can still go that way, but given that Tillman will come up and push it to a six-man rotation, it makes no sense to have Britton come up and sit the bench, or push it to a 7-man rotation. Britton will make his next scheduled start Aug. 30 in Norfolk and will most likely stay on schedule down there to end the season. Keep in mind the Orioles have a bunch of off days and to bring up Britton would really give guys too much rest. Plus, Britton isn’t on the 40-man roster and Orioles officials are leaning toward having him finish in Triple-A and obviously came back strong for Major League Spring Training.

*Orioles offensive coordinator and infield instructor Mike Bordick has been working with top Draft pick Manny Machado in Sarasota, Fla and giving manager Buck Showalter some positive reports. Showalter added that Bordick is usually a tough grader, and while Machado is shaking off some rust, he’s been progressing well in his workouts. Machado could get some at-bats in a GCL game by the end of this week, but probably won’t play the field until next week.

Checking on the Tides

With Craig Tatum expected to come back from a brief stint in Triple-A Norfolk for tonight’s game (taking Troy Patton’s spot), here are a few notes from Norfolk…

*Zach Britton made the start for Norfolk Sunday night and took the loss to drop to 1-2. Britton pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits –both career-high’s at Triple-A — with a walk and five strikeouts. He has now failed to complete five innings in four of his seven starts with the Tides.

I know a lot of people called for Britton to come up when the Orioles rotation was struggling, but his recent performance at Triple-A hardly warrants a promotion. The organization doesn’t feel like he’s ready right now, and don’t want to rush him up here just because there’s no one else. That’s part of the reason the O’s traded for Rick VandenHurk, who provides some starting pitching depth and could make an emergency start if needed.

Before this season, Britton had never pitched higher than Double-A, and while he still could be a September callup, he’s important enough to this organization that his development is still first and foremost.

*Nolan Reimold went 4-5 with a double, his 10th home run of the season, two RBIs and four runs scored in Sunday’s Tides’ loss. In his last 21 games, since July 18, Reimold is hitting .320 (24-75) with 13 RBIs, 15 walks and 17 runs scored.

*First baseman Michael Aubrey went 3-5 with three RBI and hit his 15th home run of the season.

*Kam Mickolio pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, walking one and striking out one for his second scoreless outing since returning from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list.

*Chris Tillman will start for Norfolk tonight and try to get back on track. Tillman has allowed 15 earned runs over his last 13 innings –a three-start stretch — and hasn’t lasted longer than five innings over that span.  

What do you do?

I’m off this series in Toronto with a prior engagement, but I’ve gotten a bunch of emails and questions on Twitter –enough to make me check out the remnants of last night’s game via the box score.

The question is, what do you do with Brad Bergesen? Should you have left him in longer? Do you call up Zach Britton in his place? Do you let Britton continue to develop?

Like I said, I’m not with the team and I don’t play couch-GM nearly as good as my friend/colleague MASN’s Roch Kubatko. I’ll be back with the O’s for Kansas City on Thursday, and by then I’m sure we will know Bergy’s fate.

The thing is, I’m not sure what the right move is here. It’s hard to punish a guy who is far from alone in his struggles. Do you send all the young guys back to Norfolk? Or do you let them develop in what is essentially a lost season ? Do you weigh each particular case in terms of who can maybe work through their issues up here and who can’t?

I wasn’t covering the Orioles last year and only vaguely remember Brad Bergesen when I covered an Os-Yanks series. I’ve heard he was great, a pleasant surprise for Baltimore. I’ve seen flashes of it (like that game at Fenway Park), but for the most part Bergy’s been ineffective. Is it mental or mechanical? Is the League catching up to him?

I’m just as perplexed/astounded as most of you are. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, interim manager Juan Samuel and pitching coach Rick Kranitz. But I certainly wouldn’t want any of their jobs right about now.

I will say this: I’ve done a lot of talking, mostly off the record in the visitors’ clubhouse and on the road. The general consensus about the Os young arms is they’re talented but the expectations placed on them this spring were incredibly unrealistic.
“Everything had to go right for those guys to have a chance,” said one rival GM. “And everything has gone wrong.”

None of these guys are even 25 yet. And most of them have about a year of service time -Bergy’s a little more, Jake Arrieta’s a little less, etc.  Will they all be as good as hyped? Probably not. But they aren’t this bad, either.

If they were scattered about other organizations maybe they’d still be in the Minor leagues or be a fifth starter with far less expectation. Instead, they are all up here together, pitching in the AL East with the general consensus being that they are the “Calvary” that will restore the O’s to prominence.

This spring, I spoke with an opposing pitching coach who watched Chris Tillman throw a Grapefruit League game and marvel at the possibilities. “They’re talented,” he said of the O’s young arms. “But they’re still a couple years away.”

The problem with relying on growing the young arms is the O’s don’t have any veterans or journeyman pitchers in the organization, or at Norfolk, who can come up and serve as filler. 

Look at the Tides rotation, or most of their roster in general. It’s a youth movement. I acknowledge that they’re trying to restock their farm system and really build a nice young core, but I think the element of adding a sprinkling of veterans, especially at Norfolk, was incredibly overlooked. Even the guys who are older, so to speak, don’t have years of League experience.

I know several AL teams overpay their Minor League veterans when they’re free agents to get them to stay in the system. The benefits are two-fold : first, you get a solid backup option if your prospects aren’t ready and you need a guy to come up for a quick stint. Two, you get veterans who are generally in good spirits about the organization and willing to help foster a positive, learning atmosphere. You get enough of these guys –particularly those who have been in the bigs — and your Triple-A team also starts to win a lot more games than it loses. In the Triple-A International League the top three teams are the Yankees and Rays affiliates, with Cleveland’s Columbus squad leading the West division. I’m not saying winning in the Minor Leagues is everything, but it’s certainly something.
The O’s lack of these types of veterans has also handcuffed them to an extent. It’s hard to trade away Jeremy Guthrie when you can’t think of a guy to take that roster spot. I know Kevin Millwood has come under fire, but he’s usually good for at least six innings.

People are clamoring for Britton to come up, but is he ready? He’s only made a handful of starts since being promoted from Double-A. He’s a guy you don’t want to have to shuttle back-and-forth, like they’ve done (erroneously in my opinion) with guys like Tillman and Bergesen.

This was supposed to be the year they all stood on their feet, so to speak. But having no backup option in case they didn’t, no Plan B, was risky. And now, you’re seeing just how dangerous it is.

Not following me on Twitter? Give in to the peer pressure, here.

Britton continues to impress

Touted lefty Zach Britton continues to knock on the door in Baltimore, tossing a dominant outing for Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday night. Britton pitched 7 13/3 scoreless innings to earn his first victory for the Tides against a Columbus Clippers team that entered the contest as the top-hitting team in the International League with a .289 team batting average.

The 22-year-old Britton, who was making his first appearance since throwing a scoreless inning in the MLB Futures Game on Sunday, limited Columbus to just five hits and picked up three strikeouts.

Over his last 10 starts between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk, Britton is now 6-1 with a 1.11 ERA. He has allowed eight earned runs in 64 2/3 innings in that span.