Britton looking for fit in Friars' bullpen
Veteran right-handed reliever will get plenty of opportunities
PEORIA, Ariz. -- While Chris Britton doesn't quite fit the profile of a setup man the Padres are looking for, he had a history of doing the one thing managers and pitching coaches alike covet.
Britton throws strikes. A lot of them.
And while the Padres ideally would like to have a power arm to set up new closer Heath Bell -- the role Bell held down the last two seasons -- they might well settle on a guy like Britton, who has thrown strikes more often than not at every level.
"I think that setup men or relievers who pitch prior to your closer come in all shapes and sizes and pitching type," Padres manager Bud Black said.
"We need a guy who can get results. That's more comforting for all of us. We want guys who can throw strikes."
Britton, who signed a Minor League contract in the offseason, might be that guy. He has looked good in three outings this spring, two of them official Cactus League games. He's allowed one hit with two strikeouts in two innings.
"For me, it's usually [getting] strike one and working ahead," Britton said. "I'm not really a big strikeout guy. I like to get outs with my infield and outfield. But as long as I'm throwing strikes ... everything works out."
This is why the 26-year-old right-hander has had a lot of success in the Minor Leagues in the Orioles and Yankees systems. He's 19-6 with a 2.51 ERA and 72 walks over 251 1/3 innings in parts of six seasons.
Britton seemingly found a home in Baltimore in 2006, posting a 3.35 ERA in 52 games. He was traded to the Yankees after the '06 season, but he appeared in just 26 games over two seasons with New York, often finding himself stuck behind higher-profile pitchers.
Britton became a free agent in the offseason and found several teams willing to give him an opportunity to get back to the Major Leagues. The Padres, a team with openings in the bullpen, appeared to be the right match.
"I've never been out west, and that was one thing I wanted to check out. And San Diego had a great opportunity in their bullpen," Britton said. "I did have some other offers. I had to sit down and weigh my options. San Diego seemed like the better fit.
"A change of scenery is never a bad thing. I just think the last couple of years I've been behind some pretty good pitchers, some pretty good talent. I think it was the luck of the draw, really. This way, I choose my fate, and I think I've made a pretty good choice."
Opportunity comes every three days for Britton, a regimented format he's embraced.
"I feel like this year, and it's a longer Spring Training, it feels like I'm getting more work than in years past," Britton said. "It's helped me and it's helping a lot of these guys. They are doing a good job of getting all these guys work."
Black said it's far too early to peg favorites for the back end of the bullpen, as there are a lot of games to be played before the Padres break camp after a game on April 2. But Black acknowledged that Britton, and everyone else in camp, will get plenty of chances to show what they can do between now and then.
"He'll have a lot more appearances to see what he can do," Black said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.