Orioles closer Zach Britton — four months after rupturing his right Achilles tendon — threw off a mound for the first time Friday with a 20-pitch session off a half-mound.
"Felt really good," Britton said. "It was the first bullpen, so I had to think about that, too. Arm felt really good. Just had to really think about getting over that foot, no hesitation, especially as we got going. Maybe the first couple throws, but once we got going it felt really good."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the session, which was supervised by pitching coach Roger McDowell, went well.
"The first couple [pitches], Roger said, were a little tentative, but as soon as he got going it was like [riding a] bicycle," Showalter said.
It was a significant step forward for Britton, who will progress to a pitcher's fielding practice session on the field before Saturday's game. Britton said that will present a bigger challenge than Friday's mound session.
"The doctor said that I wasn't going to have an issue getting back on the mound," Britton said. "So, running, stopping. I'm not sure if I'm going to do throwing, but I'm going to do the running and stopping off the mound and see how it feels. But the way it's been going, I haven't had any issues whatsoever in anything that we've added new, so I don't expect to have any. Just mentally getting off the mound, running hard, stopping, turning around and throwing the ball to first."
Britton must still throw several times off a full mound and have time to gain a feel for his pitches off the mound before beginning a rehabilitation assignment. Showalter said that won't start until after the Orioles' current homestand concludes at the end of the month. And while Britton isn't expected to return when eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list May 28, Showalter said he could return "shortly thereafter" if all proceeds well.
"If he can get through this and tomorrow, then the clock gets moving," Showalter said.
Trumbo making strides
Designated hitter Mark Trumbo said Friday that his quad injury has progressed to the point where he's "completely pain free" and hopes to resume a minor league rehab assignment in the next several days, perhaps as soon as Monday.
Trumbo, who previously tried to return twice — once during spring training and then again on a rehab assignment earlier this month — said his quad feels better than when he made either of those attempts.
"I feel healthy at this point," Trumbo said. "I feel better than where I was at this point. I think somewhere around two or three days, I finally felt like I was over the hurdle. It's positive news and I think we'll be getting in games and getting back pretty soon."
Trumbo said he tested his quad with some running drills before Friday's game and felt good.
"It finally feels right," he said.
In games, he will need to feel comfortable with first steps coming out of the box or pursuing balls in the outfield. Both Trumbo and the club have been cautious with the injury because there have been cases in the past when premature returns have caused lingering problems throughout the season. So Trumbo said he will depend on feel rather than putting a timetable on when he could return from the DL.
"I felt pretty good when we tried to get it going last time," Trumbo said. "There's no science behind it. I think if I'm taking the pitches that I need to take, that's a better sign than maybe the hits but we'll do the best we can."
UMBC men’s basketball team honored
The Orioles honored the UMBC men's basketball team, which pulled off a historic upset of Virginia last month, becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Coach Ryan Odom threw out a ceremonial first pitch after the entire team was feted on the infield.
"It's special," Odom said. "I'm not a baseball guy, but I am a sports guy, I love sports. This is the hometown team, and it's really humbling for them to invite us down to experience this. Our guys have been talking about it all week."
Odom's appointment card has been full since the tournament, as the team and players have been celebrated on campus and around the state, but he had no complaints Friday.
"It's been a whirlwind for sure," Odom said. "I'm so proud of our players, proud of the university. What that win did for the university, it's all of a sudden shined a light on all the great things at our university. I'm so happy most importantly for our players, but secondly for Dr. [Freeman] Hrabowski and our university as a whole."
Around the horn
The Orioles recalled left-hander Tanner Scott before Friday's game to give the club an addition multi-inning reliever. …. To make room for Scott, the club optioned infielder Engelb Vielma to Triple-A Norfolk, even though Showalter was impressed with Vielma. "His ball security has been really good," Showalter said. "He kind of knows what we're looking for. … It's tough to send him out because he's a really good defender."
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Richardson contributed to this article.