Yankees' Zack Britton explains why surgery to remove bone chip was right call over rehab

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Scott Thompson
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Zack Britton about to deliver a pitch in road uniform close crop
Zack Britton about to deliver a pitch in road uniform close crop

Zack Britton will miss some time early in the season after learning he needed arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his pitching elbow.

Britton addressed the media about his situation, which he said he didn’t think would be surgery after the initial discomfort he was feeling after tossing a bullpen.

“It was a few hours after I threw that bullpen – I forgot the day,” he said via Zoom on Wednesday. “Not during it, just afterwards it was feeling stiff. No, I didn’t think it was going to be anything serious. It’s not that serious in the grand scheme of things, but it needs to be taken care of.

“It’s disappointing. I came in, obviously I lost a lot of weight from COVID that I had in the offseason. So I was a little bit behind anyway. Adding this to that has been a pretty frustrating couple weeks.”

After consulting with doctors, Britton noted that rehab without surgery was on the table, but it didn’t seem to be the best option right now.

“Could I rehab through it and possibly come back and it wouldn’t impact me? There was a chance, but we like the chances better of me coming back this season and pitching at a high level if I just got it removed right now. If this was during the season, I’m not sure surgery would be the decision, but due to the fact that it’s spring training, through all the advice from multiple doctors it seems this is the smartest thing to do if I want to pitch at a high level for the team.”

League sources told SNY’s Andy Martino that Britton could miss up to four months after the surgery. He is getting completely shut down for six weeks.

“Being able to be out on the field, doesn’t matter how much talent you have, if you can’t make it out on the field then you’re not helping your team,” he said.

But Britton’s confidence that he will return to help the Yankees at the best of his abilities is promising to hear. In the meantime, though, someone will have to take his spot and that opens up some more battles during training camp.

Britton named dropped Michael King and Nick Nelson as players who could potentially make an impact during his absence.

The 33-year-old has been stellar for the Yankees since arriving in New York before the 2018 MLB trade deadline. He owns a 2.14 ERA in 111 games (105.1 innings) and a 1.12 WHIP. He’s had a sub-2.00 ERA in each of the last two seasons, and has set up nicely for Aroldis Chapman.