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Orioles notes: Zach Britton to be held out of second intrasquad game

SARASOTA, FLA. — In a move that Orioles manager Buck Showalter said was purely precautionary, closer Zach Britton will not pitch in Wednesday's second intrasquad game. He was scheduled to pitch one inning — or around 15 pitches — in his first spring training action.

Showalter said Britton was starting to "show symptoms" of a possible left oblique injury, so the team decided to skip his appearance Wednesday. He would likely pitch if it was the regular season, but the club didn't want to take an unnecessary chances by rushing its closer out there.

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Britton threw a bullpen session as normal on Monday, pitching under the watchful eye of Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette.

Britton, who converted all 47 save opportunities last season and finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting, has remained mostly healthy since becoming the Orioles' full-time closer early in the 2014 season. Last year, he rolled his ankle while running to field a grounder in April, but managed to avoid the disabled list.

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But for pitchers, the recovery time from oblique strains can be lengthy, so the Orioles want to proceed with caution. In 2014, Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez went on the DL and missed 16 games with a mild oblique strain.

Britton hasn't been on the disabled list since missing 72 days recovering from left shoulder impingement when he was still a starter in 2012, an injury that required a platelet-rich plasma injection.

Orioles-Bourn again: Showalter was pleased with the addition of outfielder Michael Bourn, who signed a minor league deal with the team Monday and is expected to report to camp Wednesday, along with left-handers Vidal Nuno and Richard Bleier.

Because the Orioles already know what Bourn can do — he added much-needed on-base capabilities and upgraded the team's corner outfield defense last season — Showalter said he will compete for an Opening Day roster spot. Bourn has a March 27 opt-out date, so if the club doesn't give him a major league spot by then, he can become a free agent.

"Mike is quality," Showalter said. "I don't even call him an extra outfielder. This is a guy who played meaningful games for us last year and really responded and had some big executions. [He] Improved us defensively. And he's a professional. He's a guy who's going to come in here and compete for a job. That's a good addition for us."

Bourn hit .283/.358/.435 with two homers, eight RBIs and two stolen bases in 24 games with the Orioles last season.

Around the horn: After outfielder Hyun Soo Kim flared an opposite-field single off his fists in his first at-bat of Tuesday's intrasquad game, Showalter joked he was well on his way to a 23-for-23 start to spring training. Kim started last spring hitless in his first 23 Grapefruit League at-bats. … Right-hander Tyler Wilson is scheduled to start Friday's Grapefruit League opener against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, and right-hander Gabriel Ynoa is scheduled to start Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.

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