BALTIMORE -- Orioles outfielder Luke Scott isn't 100 percent, and doesn't pretend to be. But he acknowledged on Sunday that the combination of rehab exercises and last week's cortisone shot have made the pain more manageable in his right shoulder, increasing optimism that he can avoid season-ending surgery on his torn labrum.
"There are still days I feel it, but it's getting better," said Scott, who has been able to extend his front shoulder more at the plate -- homering on Tuesday for the first time since May 3. "It does make it better to go out there and perform, at least closer to what I'm capable of."
Scott has admitted that his injury had altered everything from his swing to pitch selection at the plate, but remained adamant about avoiding the disabled list. Rays outfielder B.J. Upton, who played with a torn right labrum in 2008 -- which he had surgically repaired that offseason -- said the pain is manageable, but never completely goes away. Upton, who also did rehab exercises but never got cortisone shots, compared his injury to feeling general shoulder weakness, and said the discomfort level fluctuated throughout the season.
"I couldn't really reach for pitches," said Upton, who -- like Scott -- saw a dip in his power numbers. "I had to do something I wasn't used to doing, and that was get on the plate. I was pretty much telling myself if I they come in, they were going to have to hit me."
The injury unquestionably puts a pitcher on the DL, but it varies more so with position players. The Nationals put Adam LaRoche on the shelf last month with no timetable for his return, and Upton -- who was fortunate to not have his throwing arm affected -- said regardless of the physical constraints, it's also a big mental hurdle to know you're one full swing away from potentially dislocating your shoulder.
"The whole time, in the back of your mind when you have something like that, you know that any swing can hurt you," Upton said. "[You] just do as much as you can to keep it strong. There's not much you can do."
Coming off a career year, Scott's homers, RBIs and slugging percentage are all down from where they were a year ago, a particularly telling stat given how slowly Scott started in 2010. For now, manager Buck Showalter will continue to pick and choose his spots with Scott, who made his fifth start of the month on Sunday.
"It's kind of unique here in June because of all the off-days and the left-hand pitchers, it's kind of fit for us," Showalter said. "I think it's yet still to be seen when we get into the long stretch, where he's playing every day, what's going to happen. But we're going to give him a chance to find out."
Britton's next start pushed back to Friday
BALTIMORE -- In an effort to keep rookie Zach Britton's innings in check, the Orioles will skip his next scheduled start on Tuesday in Toronto and go with right-hander Chris Jakubauskas instead.
"We knew all along we were going to try and give him some spots here and there that would stretch out the innings that we're going to be able to use him this year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Britton, who has already thrown 82 innings in 13 starts, second only to ace Jeremy Guthrie.
Given that the Orioles want Britton to pitch in September and the Blue Jays have fared well against left-handed pitching this season, the move makes sense to give the 23-year-old a extra few days' rest. Britton said on Sunday that he understood the situation, and he will make his next start on Friday against the Washington Nationals.
"I know they are doing it for a good reason," Britton said of being skipped. "It's not anything other than trying to get me to throw in September -- and even October, if we are in contention. So, it's a good goal to have. Obviously, I've never thrown that many innings before, and I don't want to be done in August and sit around all season and not be able to throw. It's just something I have to deal with, and I knew it was going to happen, so I'm not frustrated at all."
Given that Britton's career high in the Minors is 153 1/3 innings, the organization has targeted the 175-180 range this season. To do that, Britton -- who has a 3.18 ERA -- will probably be skipped a few more times so that he can avoid being shut down a month early.
"It's kind of one in the same, the physical and the mental part of [pitching in September]," Showalter said. "That's one of the challenges that young pitchers have, is all of a sudden the season is not over in August and you got to keep pitching. We hope one day it's in October, too."
Britton (6-4) threw a bullpen on Sunday and said that he will stay on the same schedule he's been on, including the possibility of throwing to live hitters on Tuesday.
"I feel good," Britton said, when asked where he is physically. "I feel strong."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.