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Zach Britton prepared to make first MLB start of season vs. Mariners

BaseballBaltimore OriolesZach BrittonSeattle MarinersKevin GausmanFreddy Garcia

Zach Britton had been wondering for four days whether he'd get into a big league game against the Oakland A's.

He didn't. And that's not a bad thing.

Because now the 25-year-old lefty gets the call to start Monday night at Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners in what will be Britton's 2013 big league debut.

"I am definitely excited. I just want to kind of continue what I was doing in Norfolk and not try to change anything," said Britton, who was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three Triple-A games. "Hopefully I can give us some innings and get off to a good start."

Britton was recalled Thursday to provide insurance for a stretched-thin bullpen. But since he wasn't needed, he was the obvious choice to fill Monday's opening in the rotation.

"He kind of fell, initially, in the right spot where he could provide us some length when we needed it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We have some good people to pick from down there. … We didn't feel like there was really a bad choice."

In Britton's past two minor league starts he allowed just one run each while recording 28 groundball outs and no fly outs while throwing his sinker more than 80 percent of the time.

"He is back in step. He pitched well down there," Showalter said of Britton, who was 5-3 with a 5.07 ERA for the Orioles last year. "Had two really good outings [in Norfolk]. He's healthy. He's doing what he's supposed to do."

Britton also has had some success against the Mariners. He is 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts versus Seattle — both at Camden Yards. He's never pitched at Safeco Field.

"They have a lot of different guys now, so a different approach," Britton said. "But in the past they've been an aggressive team, which kind of feeds in to what I want to do. So if they are the same way, hopefully I can pound the zone and get quick outs."

Injury updates

Taylor Teagarden left the team Sunday to fly back to Baltimore. He'll travel to Sarasota and meet with hand specialist Dr. Brian Schofield on Monday or Tuesday. The Orioles will have a more exact timetable for Teagarden's return after that. Initially, he is expected to miss three-to-four weeks.

Second baseman Brian Roberts (hamstring) will begin "light baseball activities" Monday. Showalter said he wasn't sure exactly what those activities would be, but it's another step in Roberts' recovery. He has not played since the third game of the season. There is no set timetable for his return.

Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow) is pitching five innings Monday in an extended spring training game in Florida. He is coming off Tommy John surgery last May.

Right-hander Oliver Drake (shoulder) will make his first start in extended spring Tuesday. The Naval Academy product missed most of last year in the minors due to injury.

Around the horn

Norfolk right-hander Freddy Garcia is now 4-0 and leading all International League pitchers in wins after allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits, no walks and two solo homers in a win against Toledo on Sunday. The 36-year-old agreed to make five starts in the minors before a decision had to be made on him. And now he has made five, compiling a 2.67 ERA. He could choose to leave the organization if not promoted, but there also seems to be potential opportunity for Garcia with the Orioles, especially if Britton struggles. … Right-hander Kevin Gausman was the tough-luck loser Sunday afternoon for Double-A Bowie, which lost 1-0 to Harrisburg. Gausman, last year's top pick for the Orioles, allowed five hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings. He walked none and struck out eight. He is now 1-3 with a 3.77 ERA. … Catcher Luis Martinez has been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A to take Exposito's spot with the Tides.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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