SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles closer Zach Britton, who was scratched from his first scheduled intrasquad game appearance Wednesday after feeling early symptoms of an oblique injury, said this morning that he's feeling better and didn't think the discomfort was anything serious.
Coming off a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and placed fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting, Britton threw a normal bullpen Monday, but felt soreness in his side the following day and then talked to trainers Richie Bancells and Brian Ebel about the pain.
"I didn't feel it actually doing any throwing, which is, I guess, a good sign," Britton said. "There wasn't one specific pitch or one thing I was doing that I can remember that gave me an issue, so it was more the next day coming in a little sore.
"It was more just soreness in an area that I don't normally get soreness. And it's so early in camp I figured maybe take a day or so, treat it and see how I feel. … I think it's important [to get ahead of it]. Kind of knowing where I am now and knowing where the finish line is, I think it's important. ... I figured we'd nip it in the bud right now."
Britton has never had any oblique problems before, but the team wants to ensure it doesn't develop into a strain, which could push the left-hander back for at least a couple of weeks.
"I've never had any issues with lower back or oblique or anything like that," Britton said. "That's why I brought it up to Richie. It was just a little sore. You're sore right now anyway, but it was in a spot where I'm normally not, so I figured I'd talk to them about it and then treat it and kind of see how I feel the next few days."
Britton rolled his left ankle coming off the mound to field a ball last April 30, and his recovery didn't require time on the disabled list. He returned on May 5.
"I would be pitching in the regular season," Britton said. "I think my ankle injury was 100 times worse than this last year and I pitched through that, so it was just something I didn't see any benefit to going out there and throwing all the time on this right now and possibly getting worse. I finally did the smart thing and said something."
Both Britton and manager Buck Showaltersaid Britton would likely pitch through the soreness if it was the regular season.
“But we’re not going to let the symptoms of that turn into the actual it, we call it the ‘O’ word,” Showalter said, referring to the oblique strain. “I hate those things. They’re so hard to deal with. You can’t go throw because you’ll irritate it.”
Britton has been on the DL just one time in his big league career, a 60-day DL stint when he was still a starter in 2012 in which he missed 72 days recovering from left shoulder impingement, an injury that required a platelet-rich-plasma injection.
"That bullpen I threw [Monday] was really good," Britton said. "I felt really good, so I was kind of surprised when I came in and I was a little sore.