ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It happened about three days later than the team had hoped, but Chris Britton officially joined the team before yesterday's game and will be asked to bolster the Orioles' struggling bullpen.
"It's always a surprise," said Britton, who had six strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings at Double-A Bowie this season. "I'm glad to be here, but it's a big surprise."
The 23-year-old, who was the Orioles' eighth-round pick in the 2001 draft, was recalled after Tuesday night's game, with Cory Morris being optioned to Triple-A Ottawa. The Orioles wanted to bring up Britton on Sunday when they designated Eric DuBose for assignment, but as a member of the 40-man roster, Britton couldn't be called up until 10 days into the season.
Morris essentially was brought up for insurance, but the club decided that he would be better suited starting games for Triple-A Ottawa.
While acknowledging that his bullpen is a work in progress, manager Sam Perlozzo predicted that Britton, who pitched in the eighth last night, could become a fifth- or sixth-inning guy. He's also insurance if Jim Brower continues to falter.
"Quite honestly, we are still learning about our 'pen," Perlozzo said. "We're learning what Sendy Rleal can handle, and we're going to see what Brower can handle. Britton will be one of those guys, too."
Britton earned a lecture after reporting to camp overweight. He is officially listed at 6 feet 3, 278 pounds.
"I know that in spring training, [strength coach] Tim Bishop told me that he ran every day, did extra work and was on time every time," Perlozzo said. "To me, that means the guy is at least trying. ... I don't care how heavy you are if you are going to get people out."
A no-hitter in Frederick
Radhames Liz combined with three Frederick relievers to throw a no-hitter yesterday in the Keys' 3-0 victory over visiting Salem. It was the Keys' first no-hitter since John Maine, whom the Orioles traded in the Kris Benson deal, threw one in a seven-inning game in 2003.
Liz, who is ranked the Orioles' 12th-best prospect by Baseball America, struck out 13 through five innings, and Russ Petrick, Jeff Montani and Casey Cahill finished up.
Perlozzo got positive reports on Orioles reliever Todd Williams throwing live batting practice yesterday. He said that Williams, on the 15-day disabled list with a right calf strain and shoulder inflammation, likely will throw a simulated session in the "next day or so."
If all goes well, Williams probably will come to Baltimore and throw a side session in front of club officials before being sent on a rehabilitation assignment.
Roberts playing catch-up
Upon arriving at his locker yesterday, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts was reminded that he hasn't spent much time in Tropicana Field's spacious visiting clubhouse this week. He laughed and said, "I am spending way too much time in the training room these days."
After serious elbow surgery, Roberts couldn't put himself through his normal offseason training regimen and is feeling the results.
"If I had a perfect world, my body would be in a little better shape than it is probably, but it's something you deal with," Roberts said. "It's not like I'm completely out of baseball shape. It's just not like I was last year. I'm not that far off. It just wasn't humanly possibly to get to that point this year. Physically, the limitations are difficult."
Roberts, who was 0-for-3 last night, had had two hits in three of his past four games.
Reigning world figure skating champion Kimmie Meissner of Bel Air will throw out the first pitch before the Orioles' game tomorrow night at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels and sign autographs on the main concourse, near Gate D, during the first inning.