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Zach Britton Injury the Latest in 2021 Setbacks

Zach Britton injury

Manager Aaron Boone let his high leverage relievers see game action Wednesday. Missing from the group – featuring Aroldis Chapman, Darren O’Day, Justin Wilson, and Chad Green – was Zach Britton. The 11-year veteran is on his way to New York for surgery to remove a bone chip from his throwing elbow, as announced after Tuesday’s MRI.

The Zach Britton injury leaves the New York Yankees without one of their best relief pitchers for the start of the season.

“We like the chances better of me coming back this season and pitching at a high level if I just got them removed now,” Britton said in a virtual press conference Wednesday. 

The left-handed pitcher says the injury is not significant in the grand scheme of things although it is the second setback for his 2021 season.


In January, Britton contracted Covid-19. He had done his research as the disease spread across the world. He knew he did not want to get it. Still, he fell victim to it while at the hospital as his wife gave birth to their youngest child.

Getting sick caught him off guard. His body did not react well. He lost 18 pounds and was sidelined for 10 days. Additionally, the experience cost him about 3-4 weeks in his offseason program. As a result, Britton needed to get his stamina and weight back up after he got healthy.

As awful as he felt, he sought comfort in the hope that it would pass.

“I felt confident that I was going to be fine,” Britton said. “It’s just [that] I needed to regain some weight and some strength and all the other things that I kinda lost in that 3-4 week period. But recently, I’m starting to feel more like myself.”

In order to build himself back up, he operated with caution. He was careful with going to Spring Training and the workouts. Still, as good as he feels right now, he admits he is still fighting back from being sick.


As he overcame the setback of losing the weight from Covid-19, Britton gets dealt another blow. The ligaments and tendons all look good in  the elbow, but the bone chip, which is a recent development, is another health concern that sets him back. If the injury was discovered in season, surgery likely would not have been the route taken. Since Opening Day is still several weeks away, all parties involved feel this is the best option.

The operation from this second setback will take six weeks to recover. After that, he can resume baseball activities, and when he is cleared to return, he will.

Dr. Chris Ahmad will perform the surgery. For reference, his website gives 3-4 months as a timetable for pitchers to return. While sidelined, he knows that the team has a surplus of options to take his place. For the good of the team, he hopes they thrive.

“Somebody’s going to have to get an opportunity now that wouldn’t have, and get an opportunity to pitch some important innings for us,” Britton said. “And hopefully they run with it, ya know? I’m hopeful that whoever steps into my role is going to do a great job.”

He knows all about seizing an opportunity in wake of an injury. Britton made his MLB debut on April 3rd, 2011 with the Baltimore Orioles. The opportunity came to him after Brian Matusz went down with a muscle injury.


Although Covid-19 protocols make it tough for players to watch games when they are not playing, Michael King and Nick Nelson come to mind for Britton as candidates to step up in his absence. Lucas Luetge, the 33-year old left-handed pitcher who has not appeared in a MLB game since 2015, is another possible candidate. Luetge is not on the 40-man roster, but he has struck out eight of the 11 batters he has faced in Spring Training.

The Zach Britton injury is a significant loss for the Yankees’ bullpen. Even though he is confident about his recovery and the team’s ability to fill in for him, this is now his second significant setback in three months.

Players/Coaches Mentioned: Aaron Boone, Aroldis Chapman, Darren O’Day, Justin Wilson, Chad Green, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Michael King, Nick Nelson, and Lucas Luetge

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images


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