TORONTO — After another efficient, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it minor league rehabilitation outing Thursday, Orioles closer Zach Britton could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday.
Making a fourth rehab appearance, Britton needed just seven pitches to throw a scoreless inning for Triple-A Norfolk, allowing one hit and striking out one in the sixth inning of the Tides’ 7-4 win at Columbus.
Britton, who has been on the DL all season recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, has allowed just two hits and hasn’t given up a run in four rehab outings spanning 4 1/3 innings, striking out five and not walking anyone.
“I’m really pleasantly surprised at how well” he has executed, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You can tell he’s chomping at the bit. He’s had a lot of time to work and do things. He doesn’t tinker too much. He throws the right amount of breaking balls. I think he knows what’s ahead of him.”
After two days off, Britton will throw for Norfolk on Sunday and Monday, consecutive days being the final hurdle Britton must cross before he can be activated, Showalter said before the Orioles’ series opener Thursday night in Toronto.
If that goes well, Britton could be activated as early as Wednesday at home against the Boston Red Sox, or after the team’s day off Thursday before a weekend home series against the Miami Marlins.
Although Britton has dominated on his rehab assignment, Showalter said, the Orioles haven’t been tempted to accelerate his return timetable.
It’s just the opposite,” Showalter said. “We want to stay on it. [Head athletic trainer] Brian [Ebel has] been great about it. There’s a reason it’s going so great. You don’t want to do something stupid because everybody’s got a need for people like Darren [O’Day] or Zach. We just want to have them right when they get here.”
On Thursday, Britton opened his outing by striking out Bradley Zimmer on four-pitches, then saw three at-bats end after just one pitch. He induced a groundout from Drew Maggi, allowed a single to Yandy Díaz and got Brandon Barnes to line out to second base.
The Orioles could also get O’Day, another key bullpen piece, back this weekend in Toronto. He was scheduled to throw an inning Thursday night for High-A Frederick at Potomac, and if that outing was successful, Showalter said, O’Day — whose recovery from a hyper-extended right elbow has been slower than anticipated — could be activated for Saturday afternoon’s game in Toronto.
Rasmus still seeking results
Outfielder Colby Rasmus has been hitless in four games on his minor league rehab assignment entering Thursday.
Rasmus, who has been on the DL since mid-April with a strained hip flexor, was in the starting lineup for Frederick on Thursday, batting second as the Keys’ designated hitter.
He entered the night 0-for-14 with six strikeouts and one walk in four games, the first two with Double-A Bowie and the second two with Frederick. Showalter said Rasmus will likely remain with the Keys for the time being. He began his rehab assignment last Friday, and position players can take up to 20 days to complete their assignments, so the Orioles would have to add him by June 21.
First, they’d like to see some production from Rasmus.
“Just something that makes you think he’s getting in playing form. It would require him to square up some balls and hit some line drives and get some hits,” Showalter said. “He knows that. He’s very early in his rehab assignment. But he knows.”
Rasmus started the season 2-for-21 with 13 strikeouts, one walk and one hit-by-pitch before his surgically repaired hip sent him to the disabled list.
Around the horn
The Orioles’ back-to-back interleague wins in New York — a 2-1 win over the Mets on Tuesday night and a 1-0 win Wednesday — marked the second series win in club history when scoring three or fewer runs combined. They swept a two-game series from the New York Yankees on Sept. 9-10, 1970, while scoring three runs. Also, the last time the Orioles won consecutive games without an extra-base hit was in a doubleheader May 1, 2003, against the Detroit Tigers. ... Instructors from Pinot’s Palette will lead a two-hour pregame painting session of the Orioles bird logo on July 10 before the Yankees game. Participation requires a special ticket package that ranges from $50 to $65 with companion tickets on sale for $20 or $35. For more information, go to orioles.com/paint.