Britton Returning To Form For Orioles

BALTIMORE—Before Zach Britton can make it back to the majors, his results will need to match his stuff.

Britton was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Norfolk instead of being slotted in the major league rotation. His ailing left shoulder no longer brings the same discomfort that caused him to be shut down in spring training, but his overall recovery continues.

"I'm feeling good. I definitely feel like I'm starting to get stronger," he said. "My arm is getting back in its natural slot. I was definitely getting back to where I should be with my arm slot. And the strength in it is good. It's better each time out. It's just a slow progression. Obviously, I'd like it to be quicker, but I have to take slow baby steps right now."

Britton went 11-11, 4.61 in 28 starts with the Orioles last season. But he was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in the shoulder, a condition that came back over the winter and again in the spring.

After a stay at extended spring training, Britton posted an ERA of 0.75 in two rehab starts with Double-A Bowie. He was 1-1, 5.91 in two starts at Triple-A Norfolk, with seven runs and 14 hits allowed in 11 innings. He walked four and struck out four.

In his second start, he gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings at Buffalo.

"The results in Triple-A, obviously you want to do well every time out, but talking to (manager) Ron Johnson and Griff (pitching coach Mike Griffin), it's more about how I am physically. And my stuff was really good (against Buffalo), as far as movement and sharpness," Britton said. "Most of the balls they put in play were on really weak contact, which tells me a lot about my movement. I think two balls were hit in the outfield and both were base hits, so I got a lot of balls on the ground and induced a lot of weak contact, which is good. But the results at the end of the day weren't good. My stuff was a lot better than my first time out. Once I put all the pieces together physically, the results will be there."


• The Orioles released Norfolk reliever Willie Eyre, who re-signed as a minor league free agent over the winter.

• The Orioles also released righthander Jake Cowan, a 10th-round pick in the 2009 draft.