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Valued closer Britton back with Orioles

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton is back. The Orioles reinstated Britton from the disabled list, as expected, prior to Monday's game against the Red Sox, giving them an All-Star closer and contending teams an in-depth look at the lefty in advance of the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.

"I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that," Britton said of his return being an audition for another club. "I'm just excited to be back pitching. When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues.

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BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton is back. The Orioles reinstated Britton from the disabled list, as expected, prior to Monday's game against the Red Sox, giving them an All-Star closer and contending teams an in-depth look at the lefty in advance of the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31.

"I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that," Britton said of his return being an audition for another club. "I'm just excited to be back pitching. When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues.

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"There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame. [Head athletic trainer Brian] Ebel, a lot of the credit goes to him. The stuff that he did, coming out to California. I think he's more excited about me being able to pitch today, or at least being able to pitch. He should be. It's not an easy injury to rehab."

Britton, who underwent right Achilles surgery in December, has not appeared in a Major League game since Sept. 18. Injuries limited him to just 37 1/3 innings last year, and the lefty, who is a free agent at the end of this season, was dangled as trade bait midseason last year. But one of the big concerns with Britton was that he did not pitch in back-to-back games until late July.

This time around, however, Britton pitched in back-to-back rehab outings over the weekend, and he's returning at full strength and with an arm that's been rested for the better part of the past nine months.

"I'm looking forward to turning the page on [injuries] and just getting back to pitching well," said Britton. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

Video: BAL@NYY: Britton fans Sanchez to earn four-out save

To clear a roster spot, the Orioles placed Rule 5 Draft pick Pedro Araujo on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain and transferred Colby Rasmus (hip) to the 60-day DL.

With the O's not being contenders, manager Buck Showalter would prefer to bring Britton into a non-save situation first. The plan is for the lefty to make his season debut either Monday or Tuesday.

While Britton's presence -- along with reliever Darren O'Day -- should help the O's bullpen, Baltimore's last-place standing in the American League East makes it uncertain how long he'll remain in black and orange. Even the lefty's rehab starts were heavily scouted, and there'll be plenty of eyes to see how he looks in his return.

"He's arguably as good, if not the best guy out there [on the trade market] if he's right. And he's got a chance to be right," Showalter said. "He may go through a couple hiccups early on from an adrenaline standpoint alone, trying to control that."

Britton had one of the best seasons for a reliever in baseball history in 2016, going 47-for-47 in saves and posting a 0.54 ERA in 69 games. He was named to the AL All-Star team for his efforts and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. Britton was also conspicuously absent from the team's extra-innings AL Wild Card Game loss that year in Toronto.

A homegrown talent, the lefty was drafted by Baltimore in the third round of the 2006 MLB Draft, and he has spent the past seven seasons with the big league club. Britton was moved to the bullpen in '14.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Zach Britton