DETROIT -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Friday's game that he wasn't quite sure who would be his starter Saturday night against the Tigers here at Comerica Park. But all signs point to left-hander Zach Britton, who joined the team in Detroit Friday, getting the nod.
A move to recall Britton from Triple-A Norfolk wouldn't be made until before Saturday's game, when Showalter could gauge whether rookie right-hander Steve Johnson is still an option to start. Johnson, recalled earlier this week to provide depth to the bullpen, threw two innings in the Orioles' 6-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
Britton, who would have started Saturday in Norfolk, made just one Triple-A start since being optioned back there Aug. 8, allowing six runs on three hits over 3 2/3 innings. Britton made just one quality start over his five major league starts this season.
"We know that the potential is there," Showalter sai of Brittond. "It's also because of need of our club. It's his start it falls on. To be real frank, in a perfect world you'd like those guys to get everything straightened out [down in the minors]. But stuff-wise it will play up here. Physical wise he's in good shape."
Britton sees this as another possible opportunity to prove he belongs in the Orioles rotation.
"You want to do well every time out, but tomorrow I expect to go out there if I have the start and throw the ball well," he said. "And if I don't, we'll see what happens. I think sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself to compete and you forget about executing pitches."
Johnson threw two shutout innings (28 pitches) on Thursday, his first game action since winning his first major league start (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) on Aug. 8. He was optioned to Norfolk the next day but was recalled Monday when the team placed left-handed reliever Troy Patton on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle.
"He handled [Thursday] well, I thought," Showalter said. "He had seven days off. So, you know, I want to be fair to Steve, too. ... Because even if he got through [Friday] and [we] didn't use him, how far can you expect to use him [Saturday]? You want some length there."
Hammel continues to test knee
Right-hander Jason Hammel, who had arthroscopic surgery in his right knee in mid-July, will throw his third bullpen session off the rubber on a full mound Saturday.
It will be his fourth throwing session — he began with one in front of the rubber a week ago.
Hammel said he experienced some soreness in the knee for the first time following his last bullpen session Wednesday — in which he said he was throwing at about 90 percent — but not enough to consider it a setback. He said he plans to test the knee more Saturday, when he is expected to throw about 40-45 pitches.
"It's going well, just not good enough for my liking," Hammel said
Hammel's next step is unclear, but he appears to still be on schedule for an early September return.
"I don't want to get any expectations of a [simulated] game and every two days," Showalter said. "That's obviously the next step from throwing in a bullpen, but who knows? It could be two or three times more down there. … But so far, so good. If you had told me when the surgery happened that we would be sitting here this close to talking about [his return], I'd feel real good about it."
Around the horn
Patton received treatment on his sprained right ankle Friday in Sarasota, Fla. ... Right-hander Stu Pomeranz, dealing with back issues while recovering from a left oblique strain, received a cortisone shot in his back to help speed up his recovery. … Infielder Wilson Betemit (right wrist cartilage tear) received a cortisone shot Thursday before reporting to Sarasota. … The Orioles were outhit by their opponents in seven games during their recent 10-game homestand, but completed it 7-3. …Through 119 games, the Orioles have made 132 roster moves (25-man and 40-man moves) since setting their Opening Day roster. … The Orioles' series win over the Red Sox this week was their 21st of the year, most in a season since winning 21 in 2004.