With pitchers and catchers set to report to Sarasota to begin spring training this weekend, the Orioles will be monitoring the health of perhaps their most promising young pitcher.
Speculation began Wednesday morning regarding the health of Britton’s left shoulder as he begins his second season in the big leagues. Former Orioles executive and MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette used his Twitter account to disclose that the left-handed pitcher would be limited at the start of spring training due to a lingering shoulder issue.
“We are currently monitoring Zach Britton,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a team statement. “He has already reported to spring training and is scheduled to begin his throwing progression this Friday.”
Britton was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain on Aug. 5 but returned Aug. 22, spending just over the minimum of 15 days out of action. The 24-year-old went 11-11 with a 4.61 earned run average in 154 1/3 innings over 28 starts. Upon his return to the active roster in late August, Britton made eight starts, finishing with a 5-2 record and a 4.47 ERA over that season-concluding stretch.
It’s premature to panic over Britton’s status, but it certainly isn’t an uplifting introduction to baseball season after a disheartening offseason of little activity in the way of acquiring major-league talent. The fact that Britton finished the season with no apparent limitations following the August bout on the disabled list makes this news even more perplexing, but it wouldn’t be the first time a pitcher potentially pitched through a lingering injury.
With the Orioles trading veteran mainstay Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies last week, Britton was considered a strong candidate to start on Opening Day, but the questions now surrounding his health will put those aspirations on hold for now.