4/2/2014 8:03 P.M. ET
Britton hopes to be late-inning alternative in bullpen
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- For the first time since showing up to Spring Training in early February, Zach Britton had no idea if he'd get into Monday's game or not. With just two career relief appearances under his belt entering the season, it's been an experiment for Britton, who passed his first test with two scoreless innings on Opening Day.
Britton, who said he's still experimenting with an exact pregame routine, has established a range of pitches he needs to hit to be ready, and the lefty is hoping he can earn manager Buck Showalter's trust to be a back-end bullpen guy.
"I want to be a guy who is going to pitch late in games," Britton said of his role in the bullpen, which is largely undefined. "I don't want to be a guy who is only pitching when we're losing or way ahead. That's no fun. To me, I want to be a guy [Showalter] trusts out there to come out there with the game on the line and pitch well. So that's kind of my goal. We don't have defined roles, so maybe a little later on in the year, he has that trust in me to come in later in the game."
Britton fared well on Monday, getting all six outs following starter Chris Tillman on the ground, which is a sign his stuff is working.
"It'd be better to get ahead of the guys, but the sinker was really good," Britton said of his trademark pitch. "Got ground balls, and for me, that's what it's about. To minimize damage and throw a little more strikes, but to get ground balls is important."
Could the new job as a reliever have changed the way Britton, who has a 4.86 ERA in 46 Major League starts, attacks hitters?
"A lot of it is being healthy, being confident again. If I was starting, I'd have the same confidence with where I'm at physically, but definitely out of the bullpen, it makes you trust your stuff more," Britton said. "You don't have time to ease your way in. You got to go out there and be aggressive right away -- especially coming into a tight game like [Monday]."
Showalter encouraged with Johan's throwing program
BALTIMORE -- Johan Santana threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, and manager Buck Showalter said he's encouraged with the way the left-hander has progressed. Santana, who is at the team's spring complex in Sarasota, Fla., threw all his pitches and is working as if he's on a five-man rotation right now.
The Orioles would ideally like Santana, who could be an option in June, to have a 10 mph difference between his fastball and offspeed pitches.
"He had one of the best changeups in baseball, but if his velocity is only 85, can he drop his changeup to 75?" Showalter said. "I don't know, and is 85 enough? I think the hitters are going to answer a lot of those questions.
"I know in my mind what I'd love to see on the gun in a perfect world. But all indications are so far, so good. He hasn't had any setbacks."
Top prospect Dylan Bundy, who tweeted his progress in Monday's first full mound session, threw 25 fastballs on Wednesday and continues to progress back from Tommy John surgery. Bundy is considered a little behind Santana in terms of timeline.
Schoop will see bulk of playing time at second base
BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop has been taking most of his infield work at second base, and manager Buck Showalter said prior to Wednesday's game that in a perfect world that's where the Orioles' No. 5 prospect will get the bulk of his playing time.
Schoop, also an option at third base and shortstop if needed, was asked by Showalter during Spring Training what his ideal position would be and he never really committed to one answer.
"I think it's second right now, but I don't know. Whatever they need me to do," Schoop said. "I'm thinking about second base right now, but I'll be ready [elsewhere]."
Schoop, who got his first taste of the Majors in September, has been working with infield coach Bobby Dickerson and instructor Mike Bordick on his fielding and said that having prior experience in the big leagues helped calm Schoop's nerves somewhat on Monday. Still, the thrill of starting the opener at second base and running out on the orange carpet to join his teammates was something he won't forget.
"It's fun to be here with a good group of guys," Schoop said. "They are great to me, they are fun, tell me to get loose and help me. That's why I'm so comfortable here -- because of them, not because of baseball. In baseball, I know what I can do. Because of them, the way they treat me, I feel like we are a family. We are one."
• Troy Patton, who is suspended 25 games, has been throwing and is scheduled to be in an extended spring game on Monday.
• Outfielder Francisco Peguero got the cast removed from his right wrist Wednesday afternoon and had no range of motion issues, so he will begin a strengthening program soon.
• Showalter said he will give backup catcher Steve Clevenger a start in the next couple of days.
• Nolan Reimold, who is on the disabled list, would ideally be an everyday left fielder in extended spring games before he's ready to come north. There's no specific date for when that starts yet.
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.