SARASOTA, Fla. — One true indicator of the seriousness of a baseball injury is how those in the dugout react when the potentially hurt player returns from the field.
When Orioles' left-hander Zach Britton came into the visitors' dugout Wednesday night after taking a sharp liner off his right glove hand, Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson asked to see Britton's glove.
"I heard it screaming," Johnson deadpanned while others laughed.
So, yes, Britton, is fine — though he admits he was frightened for about 30 seconds after Minnesota Twins slugger Josh Willingham hit a scorching comebacker that deflected off Britton's glove and wrist.
"I didn't see [the ball] because he hit it so hard. I got lucky. I really did," said Britton, who said the liner came against his only changeup of the night. "If he had squared me up, that probably would have done some damage. But, thankfully, I was able to get out of the way a little bit."
Thursday morning, Britton said his non-throwing hand had no bruises and was just, "a little sore, but, if anything, it felt like if you sleep on your arm wrong and it goes numb. It felt like that."
The way his two-inning outing ended overshadowed just how well Britton pitched against the Twins — he allowed just one hit and no runs while striking out two. It was reminiscent of the Britton that excelled as a rookie in 2011. Out of minor league options, Britton is hoping to return to that form consistently. And Wednesday was a step toward that goal.
"I had a really good sinker, pitched some really good breaking balls — just attacking the hitters with the sinker," he said. "And I got some really bad swings and a lot of ground balls, which I am looking for."
The 26-year-old lefty wasn't the only Britton to play for the Orioles against the Twins. But he was the only one with the name Britton on his back.
His brother, minor league infielder Buck Britton, also played but he was wearing uniform No. 90 — and he wasn't listed on the traveling roster. So, in Buck Britton's first at-bat, he was announced simply as "No. 90." The Twins' TV crew also was scrambling to figure out who was pinch-hitting, which Zach Britton found to be particularly funny.
"My mom was watching, and I was talking to her on the phone when I was driving back [from the game] and she said, 'Yep, they have no idea who your brother is right now,'" Zach Britton said. "I said to [Buck], 'I heard you got a ton of TV time because they were trying to figure out who you were.'"