Zach Britton talks about his struggles before tonight's start
Rookie Zach Britton, who has allowed a combined 17 runs (13 earned) and didn’t made it out of the first inning in either of his last two big-league starts, will take the hill tonight against the Kansas City Royals.
He’s been trying to figure out what went so terribly wrong in Saturday’s bashing by the New York Yankees (nine runs, six earned in 1/3 inning).
“I was looking at my velocity, it’s still the same. My movement on the pitches isn’t the same,” Britton said. “So now I got to concentrate more on throwing to locations instead of just letting my sinker go.”
After that start, several veteran Orioles took Britton aside, including shortstop J.J. Hardy and closer Kevin Gregg.
Britton and Gregg spoke for about two hours Sunday, locked up in an intense conversation in one corner of the Yankee Stadium clubhouse.
“He’s had success as a starter and a reliever in the big leagues. So being able to pick his brain about certain things I need to do,” Britton said about the talk. “All the older guys I’ve talked to they feel like it’s more of a mental approach, a preparation thing for me.”
Britton, 23, hasn’t had much failure in his pro career – certainly not for years. Dealing with it now, after a 6-1 start to his big-league career, has been a real challenge.
“You can only get by on talent for so long in the big leagues, you’ve got guys who have played this game for 10 years. Especially in this division, the teams we are facing, you got to make adjustments. You got to be really prepared,” Britton said. “It’s not just preparing yourself the day before the start, but what are you doing two or three days before that start? I’m starting to develop a routine -- things that I’m going to do and have a reason to do.”
Getting hammered the way he did by the Yankees and Red Sox certainly can crush one’s confidence. But he is hoping he can make it a learning experience.
“I think sometimes it takes outings like the last two that really kind of hit you to say, ‘OK, I really do need a better plan, I need a better routine.’ And not just going out on the mound and expecting good results because you have good stuff.”
He’s been working a lot – and, really, talking a lot – with pitching coach Rick Adair. And he’s hoping tonight against Kansas City can help him turn things around.
“It’s tough because you feel like you are letting your team down. Especially Buck (Showalter) and Rick, they’ve put a lot of faith in me. And you feel like you are letting them down, and that’s tough,” Britton said. “You see now when you are struggling who comes to you and who kind of shies away, and I feel like most of the team has been really supportive. Through all of this, you learn about your teammates and yourself. I think there’s a lot of positives coming out of this, it s just a matter of time before I get over the hump.
“Hopefully it’s (Thursday).”