Orioles closer Zach Britton took fielding practice Thursday for the first time since he sprained his left ankle Saturday, clearing one of the major hurdles in what the team hopes will be a quick return to the mound.
"Zach had a good day today," manager Buck Showalter said. "He threw, had a good day today. He's close. … Very close. He's close to being available."
On Wednesday, Britton threw five pitches from halfway up the mound and five from the full mound, all testing the ankle he sprained trying to scoop and flip a bunt down the first base line Saturday against the Chicago White Sox.
Showalter said he'd need to see Britton get through an outing and feel good before the Orioles might send out a reliever, which is expect to be the move when shortstop Paul Janish is able to join the team following the birth of his third child later this week.
"That, however, could change in a moment of need," Showalter said. "The need for an infielder might take precedent. We're one misstep out there from needing somebody. It's going to be an after-the-game thing."
Darren O'Day got the only save opportunity the club had in the first three games after Britton's injury, and the Orioles should have a fully rested bullpen if they need one Thursday.
Gallardo on his injury
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, speaking about his rehabilitation from right shoulder tendinitis for the first time in over a week, said it has been difficult not being able to throw. It's his first time on the disabled list for an arm-related injury, but knows the strengthening program he's on is worth it.
"The main thing right now is getting as strong as I can," Gallardo said. "To me, there's no point in throwing and then going back to square one. I think the main thing is getting my strength to 100 percent and go from there. But hopefully soon. Just like Buck said, I think it's definitely progressing really well -- really, really well -- with the exercises I'm doing. It's right around the corner. I'm anxious, anxious to get back there and start throwing again and work my way back into the rotation."
Paredes waiting for production
Outfielder/designated hitter Jimmy Paredes has been rehabbing with Double-A Bowie on his way back from a wrist strain, and can remain on assignment until May 15. Showalter said Paredes is doing well physically, but is still waiting for the production to come around. Paredes entered Thursday batting .267 in eight minor league games between Bowie and High-A Frederick.
"He hasn't been quite as productive as I thought he might be, but I think he's working out. It's been a long period of inactivity, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt," Showalter said. "He's got a pretty good track record of hitting. He's going to stay with the Bowie club. I know his last day there is the 15th — if we want to carry it that far."
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.