Sarasota, Fla. — When Orioles pitching prospect Tanner Scott arrived at the Ed Smith Stadium spring training complex for his first major league camp, it didn’t take him long to figure out he had been given a special place in the clubhouse.
The guy in front of the locker to his right was a pitcher who started his career in much the same way as Scott, trying to establish himself in an organization that wasn’t quite sure how to use him.
That guy eventually turned out to be one of the best closers in the major leagues — fellow left-hander Zach Britton.
“I got to camp, noticed my locker was next to his and I was like — “Yeah!” — because he’s a great guy to learn from, Scott said. “I mean, look at him, he’s Zach Britton. He went through the starting role and now he’s one of the ultimate closers.”
Manager Buck Showalter acknowledged that the locker placement was by design, which should come as no shock to anyone, since everything Showalter does is part of his master plan.
Britton is here rehabilitating after Achilles tendon surgery and — since he can’t pitch for several months — he told Showalter he wanted to find some other way to help the team this spring.
Scott isn’t the only young pitcher Britton has been mentoring, but he is the one who Britton sees a lot of himself in. Britton came up as a starter and then moved into the bullpen when he ran out of options. The rest is history.
Scott, who made his major league debut in a brief audition in September, has been back and forth between the rotation and bullpen during his minor league career, though almost all of his recent starts have been limited to just two or three innings. It’s as if the Orioles don’t really know what they want to do with him, and Britton knows all about that.
"It has been really good to be next to his locker,’’ Scott said. “You get to pick his brain a little bit. Even after my bullpens, I’ve talked to him for five, 10, 15 minutes every single time. When you pick a guy’s brain who’s been there and you see how how successful he’s been, he’s a great guy to learn from.”
So, what has been the best piece of advice Britton has given him?
“Don’t worry about one pitch,’’ Scott said. “If the pitch isn’t where you want it, go out and make the next pitch. Don’t live on just one pitch. Move on to the next.”