Britton could miss six weeks, Showalter speaks after 6-3 loss

SARASOTA, Fla. - Pitchers Oscar Villarreal and Jon Link also have been reassigned to minor league camp, reducing the roster to 43 players, including 23 pitchers.

Pitcher Zach Britton received two Platelet Rich Plasma injections today in his left shoulder, and Dr. James Andrews told him it could be a six-week process before he's cleared to pitch. The hope, of course, is that Britton returns much sooner.

Britton said the MRI only shows "typical wear and tear of a pitcher" and added that Dr. Andrews didn't see anything that was "significant tear-wise or anything."

"That was the good news," Britton said. "We were just talking about different options, how to eliminate the inflammation and how to heal this problem. He recommended doing the PRP stuff. He's had some pretty good success with it in the past. He's been doing it for a while now. He'd rather do that than the cortisone shot because it's a way for your body to kind of naturally heal itself.

"I was obviously up for it, so we went ahead and had two injections of that today. It takes a little while for it to kick in, so it's not going to necessarily be a two-week process. It could take up to six weeks to heal and it just depends on my body and how fast I can get the inflammation out of my shoulder."

Britton said he hopes to be throwing by the end of April through the rest of the season without any problems. He probably won't do anything for the first 10 days after getting the injections.

"I'm not going to rush back and have the same issue crop back up," he said. "It's just a process that I've got to take. I'm frustrated with it, but if it's going to help me pitch and have a long career, that's the most important thing. Not necessarily being ready to pitch in April."

Manager Buck Showalter said he'd "basically slow him down a little bit again."

"We'll shut him down for a little bit and get it going again. But good news is, structurally, he's in good shape."

Showalter didn't grade Tommy Hunter too harshly today, recognizing that the right-hander was appearing in his first Grapefruit League game.

"He's capable of better command-wise, but it was his first time out there in an A game," Showalter said following the Orioles' 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays. "We got him up to 70-plus pitches. He's where he needs to be.

"We've seen Tommy have good command, but it was also good to see him survive without it. But I'd rather him have it. And he will."

Pedro Strop took the loss, allowing four runs (one earned) in the ninth inning.

"He was spinning off the ball, wasn't staying on line," Showalter said.

Endy Chavez had two hits and a walk, and he's 14-for-28 this spring.

"He's as advertised," Showalter said. "This guy's 34 years old. He should be instinctual with the things he's been exposed to. This guy goes over and plays winter ball in Venezuela. In fact, I had the Venezuelan GM come up to me today and thank me for letting him play winter ball. He does it every year. He loves to play. Try telling a 23, 24 year old guy he needs to do that.

"He's as advertized, what we were hoping to get. I've seen what everybody's talked about. Everybody who's had him really liked him, and a lot of people coveted him this off-season. Makes me a little more comfortable knowing he's there. He's the kind of guy you're always trying to figure out a way to get him in there."

Could Chavez be the leadoff hitter?

"I don't know if we're ... it's something to consider strongly, but it depends how someone else is doing who might be playing more regularly. But he's capable of doing that," Showalter said. "If you look at some of the walk totals and on-base percentage and other things that he has a track record in, you'd have to look at all options."

As I told you earlier, the Orioles also reassigned pitchers Willie Eyre and Miguel Socolovich to minor league camp.

"Willie, the groin set him back so far, and even talking to him today, it feels fine," Showalter said. "He's just so tentative with it. He had a pretty major groin (injury) a couple years ago that he missed an extended period of time. This is in the same spot and I think he's just got some mental tentativeness with it. You can see it on the mound. You all saw him pitch pretty well for us last year. I think the big thing is, with the innings going away for a lot of guys, I just don't want to keep him here as a backup. He needs to go and get some innings and get back to what he's capable of being.

"Socolovich was very impressive. He's a good pickup for us. He's got a chance to help us. I had a good conversation with him. He's really comfortable and happy here. I think you might see good things from him this year."

Showalter pointed out again that outfielder Scott Beerer (.320) is having a good camp.

Luis Ayala didn't allow a run in his one inning of work.

"He's finally getting the allergies and stuff behind him," Showalter said. "He's got both eyes completely open now. He really fought through some tough times early in camp."

As for Dontrelle Willis throwing a bullpen session today, Showalter said the following:

"Not a real extended one. He had five days off and we wanted to get him on the bump. He had a real early wakeup call this morning. He was in the locker room at 7 getting his physical and everything. We appreciate his cooperation and our doctors we had to call in. He said it was his second one this spring."

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