Orioles closer Zach Britton pitched a scoreless relief inning for Double-A Bowie on Thursday afternoon, marking the first half of his back-to-back outings that is the most significant hurdle remaining in his minor league rehabilitation assignment from a left forearm strain.
Pitching the fourth inning Thursday in relief of right-handed starter Jesus Liranzo, Britton recorded his most dominant minor league rehab outing to date, retiring all three batters he faced on just 14 pitches (eight strikes) in an inning that included a groundout to second and two swinging strikeouts.
“Everything went well with Zach today,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before the team’s series finale in Toronto. “He got the win. He got the lineup card. … It went well. He felt good.”
Britton will pitch again Friday night at High-A Frederick before making his final scheduled rehab outing Monday night for Triple-A Norfolk. Britton is scheduled to pitch in the late innings in both of those appearances.
Showalter said its possible Britton receives an extended outing in his final scheduled rehab game Monday. He has thrown single frames in each of his first five rehab outings, but could finish an inning and then pitch the following frame to duplicate the up-and-down of a multi-inning stint.
“At home, you know they’re going to pitch to nine innings,” Showalter said. “Maybe it’s something that we were going to wait until we see how today goes.”
He’s expected to be reinstated from the disabled list Wednesday, when the Orioles end a three-game interleague series in Milwaukee.
“If he can get through tomorrow and Norfolk, we’ll see him in Milwaukee,” Showalter said.
In five rehab games at three different minor league levels, Britton has allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
Sisco, Scott named to All-Star Futures Game
Sisco, Scott named to All-Star Futures Game: Two top Orioles prospects — Norfolk catcher Chance Sisco and Bowie left-hander Tanner Scott — were selected to represent the United States in the All-Star Futures Game on July 9 at Marlins Park in Miami.
“I’m proud of them, hope they represent us well and come back healthy, not in that order,” Showalter said. “We’re proud of them, especially Tanner is having a good year.”
Sisco, 22, will be making his second straight appearance in the All-Star break showcase game after homering in last year’s event in San Diego. Sisco, the Orioles’ top prospect, is hitting .266/.342/.383 with 16 doubles, three homers and 28 RBIs in 61 games with the Tides.
Scott, 22, has been pitching as a starter for the first time — though he has been limited to three-inning outings with the focus on developing his pitches and honing his control — and has a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings. He has allowed just 26 hits and is averaging 11.4 strikeouts and 5.8 walks per nine innings.
“To be able to keep the ball in his hand and have him pitch multiple innings, I don’t even worry about what he’s doing,” Showalter said of Scott. “Who knows? Maybe he can still be a starting pitcher. Who knows? If he can grasp the changeup like he’s been able to grasp the slider, who knows? But he’s doing well. He’s really gotten a grip on his walks. He really seems to be competing together with that, so it’s been fun to watch.”
Asked whether he saw either player as a major league option, Showalter shook his head saying he’s satisfied with the progress each is making.
“Not at this point,” Showalter said. “I think they’re right where they need to be doing what they need to do. That’s just me. I’m sure [executive vice president] Dan [Duquette’s] got a better opinion if you ask, but I think they’re doing exactly what they need to be doing, especially in their development. Chance has some things he needs to work on and he’s working on them.”
Starting catcher Welington Castillo was scratched from the starting lineup Thursday just minutes before the scheduled first pitch as backup Caleb Joseph started in his place.
The team announced Castillo suffered a left knee sprain.
Castillo entered Thursday hitting .277/.309/.451 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 44 games, but has been on the disabled list twice this season.
He missed 10 days after suffering a testicular injury when a deflected pitch hit him in the groin area and missed nearly two weeks with shoulder tendinitis in May.
Around the horn
Right-hander Chris Tillman is still scheduled to start Friday’s home series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. Tillman returned to Baltimore on Wednesday to be with his wife, who is expected to deliver the couple’s first child any day now. Just in case Tillman is unavailable, right-hander Dylan Bundy flew back to Baltimore on Thursday afternoon to avoid the team’s early-morning return from Toronto on Friday. … First baseman Chris Davis, who remained in Florida reporting to the team’s spring training complex in Sarasota when the team traveled from Tampa Bay to Toronto, will rejoin the team in Baltimore on Friday as he recovers from an oblique strain. … Utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, who suffered a setback last week in his return from a right shoulder strain, still hasn’t resumed throwing, Showalter said.