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.
Roberts could start rehab stint next week
BALTIMORE -- Second baseman Brian Roberts is nearing a rehab assignment, and the veteran infielder, who hasn't appeared in a Major League game in more than a year, acknowledged Monday that it's possible he could be back playing for a Minor League affiliate within a week.
"We've got a plan in place, and 99 percent of it is based on what Brian and his doctors are talking about," manager Buck Showalter said. "We're at the point where there's a potential date involved."
Neither Roberts or Showalter would elaborate on when that exact date is, but when pressed further, Roberts said the next seven days is a definite possibility, a prospect which has fueled the slowly-building optimism that the 34-year-old can rejoin the team in the season's first half.
"For a long time, I wasn't sure where the finish line was, and I certainly didn't see it," Roberts said of his long road to recovery from a concussion. "When you do get a glimpse of that, it's nice and you do get a breath of fresh air and some added momentum.
"There's been a lot of times in the last year that I had no idea if I'd ever play baseball again, so in some ways it'd be a huge achievement or triumph just to get back out on that field. It's definitely something that I've thought a lot about. I'd love for it to happen. I think when that day happens it will be -- not necessarily something I'm proud of, but I guess maybe in some ways I've continued to fight. There were a lot of times I could have easily shut it down."
Roberts said he would go to a full-season club -- not to an affiliate in Sarasota -- and he would like to commute, which makes nearby Double-A Bowie the most logical landing spot. Even when he gets sent out, Roberts plans on still being around the team when they are in town and doesn't have a specific timeframe for the length of his rehab, which is a maximum of 20 days under Major League Baseball's rules.
Showalter, who has allowed himself to think of the possibilities a healthy Roberts would add to his club, bristled at the insinuation that Roberts would be a part-time player when he returns.
"Role player? I don't think about it like that at all," Showalter said in reference to Roberts just being active being enough. "I think Brian is looking at it as a lot more than just getting here. Brian wants to get here and bring what Brian can bring, and we all know what that capability is. I think he knows what it takes to perform at this level.
"He's not going to put himself in a position to come back unless he knows he can bring that. He knows what the needs of a player is to play at the level in our division, so I have complete trust in him that he'll know if it's right."
Roberts said he's up for whatever Showalter wants upon his return, and praised the performance and effort of Robert Andino, who has earned an everyday role at second base in Roberts' absence.
"When it comes to winning my job back, whatever Buck wants me to do, I'll do," Roberts said. "I'd love for this team to be playing in October, and if I'm sitting on the bench then, I guess, so be it. I'd like to think he's going to run me out there when I'm ready.
"I think the goal is to get me back here doing everything, and when I get back here, I can do everything. It doesn't mean I can't DH every now and then or something, or Buck thinks that's the best thing for a week straight. We haven't really talked too much about that option. Certainly our goal is to play second base every day."
Reimold leaning toward second epidural
BALTIMORE -- Nolan Reimold hasn't been progressing as quickly as the organization had hoped, and the outfielder is likely headed for a second epidural injection in his spine, which could happen later this week, to help aid his recovery from a herniated disk.
Reimold was examined by neck specialist Dr. Lee Riley on Monday, and after the Orioles' 8-6 loss to the Red Sox, Reimold said that he's leaning toward getting another shot, although there's no guarantee it will speed things up.
"There's a lot better chance it would help with the pain than it would help with the weakness and the numbness," said Reimold, who is more concerned with the latter two issues, which have been frustratingly slow to resolve.
Asked if there was anything that could be done for the numbness that runs up his left shoulder, Reimold said it's just a matter of giving the injury time.
"I got a nice traction table in there," Reimold said, gesturing toward the club's training room. "I do that a couple times a day. I started working out a few days ago. [I'm trying] to keep myself in the best shape I can so when I am able to come back I'm not too far gone, too far out of shape. So I do everything I can to keep myself going."
Reimold last played April 30 and while his timetable is very uncertain, he's not expected to return until at least mid-June at this point.
Will he take some time before making a definite decision on getting the epidural?
"[Dr. Riley's] going to schedule it," said Reimold. "If something happens, I can always cancel, but I'm probably going to get it."
Reimold was hitting .313 with five homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games before hitting the DL.
Lindstrom's finger better, but not throwing yet
BALTIMORE -- Reliever Matt Lindstrom's return from the 15-day disabled list will likely be delayed past Saturday, the first day he is eligible.
"With the time [Lindstrom's missed], he's probably going to need to pitch some, so his activation or going out on rehab is not imminent," manager Buck Showalter said.
Although Lindstrom's right middle finger is pain free, the doctors have advised him to remain cautious to make sure the partial ligament tear can completely heal.
Lindstrom has been able to pick up the ball and squeeze it, but he hasn't started pitching again and hopes to do so within the next couple of days.
"I'm champing at the bit a little bit trying to convince those guys that I want to get throwing again," Lindstrom said, "but I've got to be careful."
The right-hander added that he is on a "waiting period," but he has been doing other workouts to keep his arm strength up to par.
The tentative plan is for Lindstrom to throw this week in Baltimore, and if that goes well, head to Sarasota, Fla., for a rehab assignment.
Lindstrom said he hopes to need only "a couple" rehab outings "just to get my command down and everything like that, but we'll see," before returning to the Orioles' bullpen.
Mark Reynolds is "feeling good" as he continues to rehab a strained oblique at the club's Spring Training facility in Sarasota, Fla., manager Buck Showalter said. Reynolds has been taking ground balls and moving around well, and Showalter added that Reynolds is further along in his recovery than Endy Chavez, who is also on the 15-day disabled list and rehabbing in Sarasota with the same injury. Reynolds is eligible to return on Saturday, while Chavez is eligible Thursday.
Taylor Teagarden is expected to seek a second opinion on the back injury that has kept him on the disabled list since Spring Training.
Showalter said he could potentially tinker with the Orioles' rotation following Thursday's off-day. With Jason Hammel dealing with a sore right knee and Wei-Yin Chen still adjusting to pitching on four days' rest, Showalter said he could choose to give his starters extra off days.
Former infielder Josh Bell has been called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks from Triple-A Reno. Bell was acquired by the O's via a trade on July 30, 2009, hit .200 in 79 games in '10 and '11, and was traded to Arizona for a player to be named on April 21.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.