07/16/12 9:46 PM ET
Britton set for season debut
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"I feel a lot more confident going into this year, because I know I've prepared the right way and my delivery's where it needs to be," said Britton, who started the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury before being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on June 6. "There's a lot of confidence from that aspect coming into the start."
That confidence comes from a long rehab process, which began with Britton stripping it back down to basics and working with pitching rehab coordinator Chris Correnti on adding flexibility to lengthen his stride and take some of the pressure off his left arm.
Britton also worked with director of pitching development Rick Peterson and switched back to standing on the third-base side of the mound, which is where he was during the first half of his rookie season last year, before moving to the first base side.
Britton had a first-half ERA of 4.05 -- including a 4-1 record with a 2.84 in his first five April starts -- before tiring considerably down the stretch. He landed on the DL with left shoulder soreness in August, posting a 5.76 ERA after the All-Star break.
Britton showed up this spring still dealing with the left shoulder soreness and he underwent platelet-rich plasma treatment at the end of March before starting a rehab program.
"[Peterson said] 'Hey I'm not going to get you back to where you were overnight. It's not going to happen. You've got to stick with it,'" Britton said. "That's what I did. That's why I think you saw the starts [for Norfolk] getting better as I kind of bought into the plan and got consistent with it.
"I have a routine every day. When I show up to the park I have something I'm going to get better at. The main focus is just repeating my delivery, and there are drills I can do every single day. Last year, I didn't have a great routine. And it kind of showed by the end of last season."
Tuesday's start will be Britton's first in the Majors since last September 27, when he went 4 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. He has pitched more than six innings just once in his previous six starts for the Orioles, and with the injury to Jason Hammel (right knee surgery) and ineffectiveness of starters Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter, have given Britton -- along with Monday's starter Chris Tillman -- an opportunity to help stabilize the rotation.
"It obviously is an opportunity, but I think we're just focused on each outing and showing that we can pitch up here obviously, but [also] be successful," Britton said. "It's not just one outing or two outings. During the course of a season, you have to be effective and I think with what we've been doing in the Minors with our delivery and having a good process, it's going to benefit us a lot."
Andino out 3-4 weeks with shoulder strain
MINNEAPOLIS -- The injury problems continue to pile up for the Orioles, who will be without second baseman Robert Andino for 3-4 weeks after an MRI on Monday revealed a left shoulder strain.
"Wasn't a shoulder separation, so that's the good news," manager Buck Showalter said. "But he's got some fibers he tore in there and some strain up in the shoulder. Good news is it's his left shoulder.
"When I left [Sunday], Robert said, 'I'll see you in Minnesota,' and today he's on the DL. The doctors are pretty sure that he can be [out] as long as 3-4 weeks."
Andino will be placed on the disabled list on Tuesday, with starter Zach Britton taking his roster spot.
His absence is another blow for an already-depleted Orioles team. Baltimore's Opening Day second baseman, Andino is batting .230 with five home runs, 21 RBIs and four stolen bases in 79 games, having taken over full-time duties in the absence of veteran Brian Roberts, who is out with a right labral hip tear.
Andino was injured in the sixth inning of Sunday's game while diving for Alex Avila's RBI single off starter Miguel Gonzalez, which gave Detroit a 3-0 lead. Andino dove to his left and stayed down after the ball went into right field. He later exited the game, with X-rays coming back negative.
The 28-year-old Andino stayed back in Baltimore and was put in a sling, according to Showalter, who also said that Andino will report to the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., after a few days of rest to let the injured area calm down.
The initial timetable is 3-4 weeks, and while the injury isn't on his throwing side, Andino will still need to get some at-bats with one of the team's Minor League affiliates before he is activated.
Who will now take over at second base? Internally, Steve Tolleson and Ryan Flaherty are the two logical options, with Tolleson getting the start in Monday's series opener against the Twins.
Tolleson, who came up through the Twins Minor League system, last played second base in the Majors in 2010, while Flaherty is a Rule 5 Draft pick whom the Orioles have used sporadically.
There's also a chance the Orioles could look externally, especially given that Andino was already the team's backup to Roberts. Showalter didn't rule out that possibility.
"That'd be a good question for [executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette," Showalter said. "I am looking from within. We got a club playing real well down in [Triple-A] Norfolk and when we have a need, which we don't currently have, that's where I'll look. See where it takes us."
Pitcher Jason Hammel underwent successful surgery on his right knee Monday at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The 29-year-old Hammel had the area scoped out and also had a few loose bodies removed. He will eventually report to the Orioles Minor League camp in Sarasota, Fla.
Catcher Ronny Paulino has accepted his assignment and will remain in the organization, forgoing free agency to stay with Triple-A Norfolk and split duties with Luis Exposito. Paulino was outrighted on Saturday to make room for Taylor Teagarden.
Pitcher Dana Eveland cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. Eveland was placed on waivers on Saturday and is expected to be stretched back out to join Norfolk's rotation.
Infielder Nick Johnson tried to hit Monday in extended spring in Sarasota, but experienced some discomfort in his right wrist, so he continues to be out indefinitely. Pitcher Stu Pomeranz -- who had a back issue that kept him from going out on rehab -- resumed throwing on Monday in Sarasota, as he continues to make his way back from an oblique strain.
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.