Orioles notebook: Zach Britton stays mum on why he hasn't closed since Tuesday

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Orioles closer Zach Britton is not revealing what physical issues he's dealing with right now, but he said getting a second straight day of rest Thursday was helpful after pitching consecutively from Sunday to Tuesday.

Britton said he's now ready to pitch the next time he's called upon.


"Everyone at this point in the season has got a little something going on. With the three days of throwing, and I got warmed up the day before, just trying to give me two days [off]," Britton said. "I think I kind of needed those two days with the workload that I had, and then just being ready to go for the rest of the season."

When the Orioles scored four runs in the eighth Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays to go up 4-3, it created an eventual save situation. To make it even more of an ideal situation for Britton, the Rays sent three left-handers to the plate in the ninth inning.


But Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he had already told Britton he was getting the night off. And he wasn't going to alter that plan even though the situation screamed for Britton, who has converted 33 of his 36 save chances this year. So Showalter brought in sidearmer Darren O'Day, who pitched a perfect inning for his third save.

"We are all very proud of the health of our bullpen and I'm not going to waver from that. There's times where you take care of them and times where you do push the envelope a little bit, not very often, as you all know," Showalter said. "When you say something [to a player] and all of a sudden the situation changes, I've seen a lot of people change that. But we are fortunate to have Darren."

Showalter said even if O'Day wasn't available, he wouldn't have gone with Britton on Thursday. And before Friday's game, Showalter wouldn't commit to using Britton, even after the lefty had already told reporters he could pitch if needed Friday night.

"I'm not going to tell you Zach is going to pitch tonight or not," Showalter said before Friday's game. "I'm not going to broadcast that to the world."

Britton said that bullpen coach Dom Chiti joked that the lefty was more nervous in the ninth Thursday watching his buddy O'Day close the game than Britton usually is closing out a game himself.

But Britton said it's a good feeling knowing several of his bullpenmates can do the job in the ninth if needed. Brad Brach also could be an alternative and both Oliver Drake (Triple-A Norfolk) and Mychal Givens (Double-A Bowie) were closers this year.

"We have guys that are capable of doing that, whether it's me or Darren or Brad. Oliver's done it in the minors, Givens has done it in the minors," Britton said. "When you have options down there, it's nice, you can give a guy that [opportunity]."

Alvarez on playing at The Trop


Orioles rookie outfielder Dariel Alvarez said he was told about the ground rules at Tropicana Field and that balls occasionally get lost in the catwalk rings above the playing surface. But he still wasn't fully prepared for the third inning Thursday, when he was tracking John Jaso's blast to right field.

"My first reaction was I went to get the ball close to the wall and I lost it," Alvarez said through translator Einar Diaz, the Orioles assistant hitting coach. "I was looking and the only thing I saw was the ball rolling in the thing over there, the catwalk."

Jaso's shot stayed up in the C-ring and was ruled a homer; Alvarez stood for several moments with his glove raised above his head.

"It was different because I was going back on the ball at that time and the ball stayed up there and never came down," he said.

Alvarez, a Cuban defector, said he has played in the Tokyo Dome in Japan, so he has dealt with indoor baseball before. But Tropicana Field's white roof provides an extra challenge.

"It's a little bit tougher over here because the top is really white and sometimes you lose [the ball] for a little bit," Alvarez said. "You have to be careful with the lights, too. But the biggest problem is the top's really white and the ball's white, too. Sometimes, it's tough."


Showalter not scoreboard watching

Showalter said he's quite aware of what the Orioles' situation is — they are trailing several teams for the final wild-card spot in the American League and only have 15 games to play after Friday night.

But he said he's not scoreboard watching and trying to figure out what the teams in front of the Orioles are doing.

"I personally am not. It's all about our nine innings," he said. "I just don't think it's productive to be dwelling on that all the time. We are trying to win every baseball game, and we know if that doesn't happen, it doesn't matter what anybody else is doing."

Showalter also wouldn't suggest that a more realistic goal would be trying to finish the season over .500 for the fourth straight year.

"I'm not going there yet. It's about being the last team standing," he said. "That's all it is."


Around the horn

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (elbow, shoulder) threw from 120 feet and said his arm felt much looser than it has recently. He will throw a bullpen session Sunday and if that goes well, he'll likely face live hitters Tuesday or Wednesday. The club would like to see Gonzalez start twice more for the Orioles before the season ends. … The Orioles' comeback Thursday marked the first time this season they had won after trailing by three or more runs in the eighth inning or later. They had been 0-44 in those situations. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Orioles haven't had that kind of comeback since April 16, 2012, at the Chicago White Sox. … Carlos Pena, who was a key player on Tampa Bay's 2008 World Series team, officially retired from baseball Friday, signing an honorary one-day contract with the Rays. He threw out the first pitch before Friday's game.