CHICAGO — After a rocky start to the season for fill-in closer Brad Brach, Orioles manager Buck Showalter sees his All-Star reliever turning a corner after Brach clinched his seventh save of the season in Monday's 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.
"Brad, the last two or three outings, has been pretty solid," Showalter said. "Pitching against these guys with the game on the line is hard, especially with the parts of the order that Brad is facing. You can just tell in his body language. ... Brad has never been a guy that looked like or ever took something for granted, like 'I've got it all figured out.' He's pitching every day like it's his first outing in the big leagues. That's what you love about him. Brad never takes anything for granted."
Brach's ERA was 6.55 after he took the loss May 1 in Anaheim, but since then he hasn't allowed an earned run in eight innings over seven appearances, with four walks against 11 strikeouts while allowing six hits. That stretch has lowered his ERA to 3.79, giving Showalter a feeling that there's better ahead for Brach.
"He's performed at a pretty high level of consistency for a long time here for the Orioles," Showalter said. "As long as he's healthy, which he is, you know it's only a matter of time before he gets back here. And keep in mind, it's not like he's sneaking up on people. Those are the guys who impress me — the guys who you know what they're going to do and they still do it."
Britton keeps building
Orioles closer Zach Britton (Achilles), the man Brach is replacing, said he's starting to feel like he's ready for his rehabilitation assignment, which will be the final step before he's activated from the 60-day disabled list, after he pitched another simulated game Tuesday.
"Every time I get on the mound, I feel a little bit better," Britton said. "Kind of like in spring, every time you get on the mound you feel a little bit sharper. That's where I'm at now. ... That's the next step, getting into a game. You can do so many sim games against your own guys, but there comes a point where you need to get out there with a team in a game situation."
That will happen for Britton beginning next Wednesday, according to the path set by the club. He'll throw a two-inning simulated game Saturday, either at the club's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., or with the major league team at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, before reporting to Triple-A Norfolk for a handful of outings there.
"It's been a long time coming, and I'm at that stage after today where you can only throw so many times against your own guys," Britton said. "You want to get back in the competition, and you can get a better ready too with where you're at from a pitching standpoint, get some adrenaline going. That's what I'm looking forward to the most."
Showalter said it was "as good as I've seen him" this month.
"If you didn't know better, you'd think he was ready to go," Showalter said.
Jones pairs with Ortiz
Center fielder Adam Jones is teaming with former Red Sox star David Ortiz for a Father's Day promotion that benefits something the two former rivals both believe in.
"We've been foes for our entire career, but friends away from here," Jones said. "A lot of the initiatives that he does are mostly centered toward kids, rehabilitation of kids because obviously, kids are the future. Me and him agree on that so much."
From now until just before Father's Day, fans can make a $20 donation to the David Ortiz Children Fund to enter to win a chance for them and their father to take an all-expenses paid trip to Ortiz's 11th annual Celebrity Golf Classic in the Dominican Republic. Ortiz and Jones are teaming with comedian Josh Wolf on the effort, which gives fans a chance to take part in something Jones has long attended.
"This one is for Father's Day, bringing in the perspective that us athletes don't get the opportunity to see our kids as much because we're playing, we're providing," Jones said. "That goes for a lot of parents in the world, also, not just athletes."
Details can be found at dailykarma.com/fathersday.
Around the horn
Reliever Darren O'Day got a ball back in his hand Tuesday on his path back from a hyperextended elbow, Showalter said. "Darren's going to play light catch today, take a workday tomorrow and see where we're at," he said. ... Showalter said he talked to infielder Tim Beckham, who is rehabbing in Florida from core surgery. "Beck, he's doing good," Showalter said. "Real good."