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O's closer Zach Britton to begin rehab assignment Monday

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton will begin a rehab assignment on Monday.

"Feeling good," said Britton, who's been on the disabled list since May 6 with a left forearm strain. "I think I'm over the injury right now. It's hard to say a hundred percent until you've thrown in a game, but I think all signs are pointing in a good direction."

On Thursday, Britton threw 22 pitches during a simulated game. On Monday he's scheduled to pitch the first inning of Opening Day for the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the Orioles' short-season Class A affiliate.

After that, according to Baltimore manager Buck Showalter, the 29-year old southpaw is slated to pitch twice for low Class A Delmarva before reporting to Double-A Bowie. Britton said he expects to be back before the All-Star break, which begins Monday, July 10.

"My gut tells me I'll be back before then," Britton said. "That's been the plan the whole time."

A third-round pick of the Orioles in 2006, Britton was a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities last year, when he finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting. On April 14 he recorded his 54th consecutive save, tying Tom Gordon for the second-longest streak in MLB history.

Two days later, Britton landed on the disabled list with a forearm strain. He returned on April 28 and made two appearances before going back on the disabled list.