BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton threw five innings in an extended spring game on Monday, allowing two runs on four hits with five strikeouts to a Minnesota Twins affiliate, and he's expected to make his first rehab start on Saturday for Double-A Bowie.
Britton, who has been on the disabled list since the season started with a left shoulder impingement, said his stuff was the best it's been since he started throwing. The pair of runs came in the first inning, when he had some early command issues. The left-hander threw around 80 pitches, including 10 in the bullpen to finish up, and his fastball was in the 90-92 mph range.
The 24-year-old Britton, who received two rounds of platelet rich plasma therapy at the end of March, has been working in Sarasota, Fla., with pitching rehab coordinator Chris Correnti and director of pitcher development Rick Peterson during his rehab and has praised the efforts of both additions to the organization.
"I feel strong," said Britton, who hasn't been 100 percent since originally hitting the DL in August. "We've been making some adjustments, just kind of smooth things out a little bit. [Peterson] thought there was some things I was doing last season in my delivery to compensate [for shoulder discomfort]; trying to get me back in the good mechanics I had at the beginning of last year.
"My breaking ball is back, which I didn't have at the end of last season. My changeup has been there and the velocity is starting to creep back up."
Britton, who is aiming to be back the first week of June, said his progression went quicker than he thought and he will approach what will most likely be two rehab starts as if he's in Spring Training trying to win a rotation spot.
"I got to earn my way back on the team, that's for sure," said Britton, who has watched every Orioles' game he can while in Florida. "It's a first-place team and I got to put myself in a spot to win a spot. They aren't just going to throw anyone out there. I got to show I'm ready to perform in the big leagues. ... So I'm pretty excited about these next two starts and getting a chance to do that."
Manager Buck Showalter declined to get into a lot of specifics regarding Britton, but he was pleased with Monday's performance and hearing Britton's mindset on winning back a spot.
"Zach understands what competition is all about," Showalter said of Britton, who went 11-11 with a 4.61 ERA in his rookie season. "That's why he was in the big leagues last year, and [we] look at it as part of the depth that we're going to get back here, hopefully shortly."
Britton would probably get up around 90 pitches in Saturday's outing, and since all of the Orioles' affiliates are on the road after that, where Britton makes his second start is still up in the air.