Update: Britton suffers recurrence of forearm strain; no reported ligament damage; headed for another DL stint - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Update: Britton suffers recurrence of forearm strain; no reported ligament damage; headed for another DL stint

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles’ 4-2 victory against the Chicago White Sox Friday night was tempered by news after the game that All Star closer Zach Britton is dealing with a recurrence of the left forearm strain that kept him on the shelf for a chunk of April.

He will land on the disabled list and be out a few weeks to allow the inflammation to fully subside and the strained muscle to completely heal, according to an industry source. But there is no structural damage to the forearm or elbow ligaments, simply a continuation of the muscle strain.

That, in itself, should be a huge relief for the Orioles and their star left-hander.

Britton was not in the bullpen during Friday’s game, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter revealed that Britton had left for a 7 p.m. MRI on his throwing arm.

“There’s some talk about the next step to take with him. He woke up this morning, felt it, felt some discomfort this morning. I guess we call it the night when we get back at 4 (a.m.),” Showalter said. “It got a little better as the day went on, but we’re trying to decide what our next step is.”

The sense is that Britton did not allow enough time for the strain to heal properly in his haste to return to the team, but after resting it over the next couple weeks, it shouldn’t be a lingering issue.

Britton could seek a second examination outside of the organization — potentially visiting Los Angeles to see renowned sports medicine specialist/orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, whom Britton’s agent, Scott Boras, often recommends for his clients. ElAttrache has worked with Oriole players before, including performing knee surgeries on Manny Machado in 2013 and 2014.

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Britton was on the disabled list from April 16 to until Tuesday, when he pitched a scoreless inning in Boston, allowing a hit and a walk. He threw another scoreless inning Thursday, but when he dealt with discomfort Friday morning, the medical team decided to send him for a MRI.

“How we proceed will probably be derived from those findings. Just compare it with the one he just took,” Showalter said. “Same (initial diagnosis), forearm strain, I think. That’s what I was told. I talked with Zach today and Dr. Jacobs and Richie (Bancells) and Roger (McDowell) and (we’re) just trying to gather all the information and decide which direction to go.”

When Britton is placed on the DL, the Orioles will be able to replace him with a pitcher who had been sent down within the last 10 days, such as Paul Fry, Logan Verrett, Mike Wright, Alec Asher or Vidal Nuno, among others. The Orioles cannot promote any of the above-mentioned pitchers Saturday unless they are replacing an injured player.

The Orioles also likely will demote Gabriel Ynoa, who pitched six splendid innings in relief of Wade Miley on Friday, to Triple-A by Saturday. Although Showalter said, “We’ll see,” when asked if Ynoa could be a candidate for the 10-day DL. The right-hander was dealing with cramps in his leg toward the end of his outing, but said after the game he felt fine.

With Britton headed back to the DL, Brad Brach will continue getting the majority of save opportunities. He has converted six of seven in Britton’s absence.

The Orioles will also have to make another roster move by Sunday, when Chris Tillman (shoulder) comes off the disabled list to make his season debut. Showalter said Tillman’s side session went well Friday, and he’s on schedule to start in the series finale against the White Sox.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. marcshank

    May 6, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Yea, it sucks about Zach. But as far as I’m concerned they can hold him back until the All-Star break and have him for the second half. And they’re going to have to get someone to spell Brach. I don’t know who that would be.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 6, 2017 at 8:17 am

      Impossible to truly replace Britton, but they have enough quality depth to hold the line again, I think.

  2. bigdaddydk

    May 6, 2017 at 8:11 am

    I’m curious why they wouldn’t move Ubaldo to the pen for long relief and plug Ynoa into the rotation. He pitched very well last night, has better gas and control than Ubaldo, and isn’t a mechanical nightmare. Ubaldo pitched well in relief for a couple of innings in Boston, and I have more confidence in him there than in the rotation. Plus, I think Ynoa will be less likely to tax the bullpen with awful starts on a regular basis.

    As for Britton, get the arm healed and get back to 100% before even considering a return. He’ll need his best stuff for the stretch run if the O’s are to make a serious bid for the division and post-season.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 6, 2017 at 8:19 am

      Ynoa was great Friday, but he did have a 6-plus ERA at Triple-A. And Jimenez typically isn’t good out of pen. It may happen. But not this week.

      • bigdaddydk

        May 6, 2017 at 8:32 am

        I get what you are saying, but Jiménez isn’t good as a starter either. I’d like to get more info on what Ynoa struggled with to have a 6+ ERA at AAA. He certainly had good control and movement on his stuff. Plus, the MASN guys mentioned his successes previously in the PCL, which is no small feat in the minors. He gets enough groundballs to not look like he’s a bad pitcher for OPACY and keeps the ball down. He didn’t make mistakes up in the zone. If this is how he pitches, there’s a good enough defense behind him to make it an acceptable risk, IMO. Could have been a one time thing, but Jiménez is enough of a mess that I’d relegate him to mop up duty and look to trade for a bucket of baseballs and a ham sandwich later in the season. Hate to say it because I like the guy, but I think he does more damage than good and I’m not going to let emotions cloud muscles judgment on him anymore. I think there are better options on the staff.

        On the subject of the rotation, what news of Miley? He took a couple of nasty shots yesterday. I’ve never seen two consecutive hitters hit the pitcher with batted balls before. Both were smoked too. Is he OK, and will he be ready for his next start? He should be up again during the Nats series. Hate to face that bunch without his arm in good condition.

      • claudecat

        May 6, 2017 at 8:51 am

        Based on informal reports from people I know that have seen Ynoa’s starts in person, he’s been the victim of bad luck, at times anyway. Balls that weren’t quite errors, ground balls that found holes, bloops, etc. I’d be inclined to give him another shot at starting, though I’m not so sure about Ubaldo coming out of the ‘pen for anything more than mopup duty.

        • bigdaddydk

          May 6, 2017 at 9:03 am

          Thanks for the info on Ynoa at Norfolk. I’m with you on Ubaldo in the pen. I would not pitch him in high leverage situations. I’d just be looking for a place to stow him for mop up and emergency relief. He’s been abysmal as a starter so much that good outings seem nearly worthy of miracle status. Probably no real trade value with him, so minimizing the damage seems to be an appropriate strategy to me. I see Ynoa with more upside at this point.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 6, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Miley is fine. I have a post soon scheduled on that. Check back in a little while fur full details with him.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    May 6, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I suppose Ill go with the silver lining listed above and be happy Britton is sitting in reserve for after the All Star break. But the bullpen depth we discuss is worthless if the starts don’t improve from Gausman and Ubaldo isn’t put out to pasture since, frankly, our early relief sucks. Sorry, but a fan base discussing the merits of Gabriel Ynoa doesn’t sound like World Series timber to me. Which brings me back to my pet topic; the Vanimal. My main man Vance disgustingly raining sweat all over the mound would really come in handy right now.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 6, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Worley was really good at the role he filled. But he was without options. They wouldn’t be able to shuttle so many pitchers if he were on the team. And they like the 5-man bench. So do I.

  4. woody

    May 6, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Much as I loved Ynoa’s efforts and couldn’t be anything other than impressed, i’m not going to get carried away after one outing. We’ve seen it all before with long men. The batting lineup is set up to face a lefty, they don’t have a clue who Ynoa is or what his pitches look like etc. Hats off to him though, great job. He, like Ubaldo and Wilson before him have given us a much better chance of winning games in May. I agree Ubaldo out of the pen is not a great idea unless its literally just in bust games (maybe long man tomorrow for Tillmans start?). He’s too often slow off the mark – not a good makeup for a reliever.

    Thoughts on Zach? I think everyone could see his stuff wasnt there before the 1st DL and it certainly wasn’t in his 2 games after. If it weren’t for the strangest triple play of all time he’d have been in quite a mess 1st time out; 2nd time out – 4 balls in play, not one ground ball. Not the same Zach.

    Well obviously we are going to be worse of without him, but all that matters is that this guy is fit in September. Until then we can cope. Brach/O’Day/Hart have done fine so far. Sure, they’ve all messed up at least once – but its unfamiliar pressure and Brach for one looks like he’s getting used to it. How about Mike Wright for middle innings? Feels like we’ve pushed our luck on that gap in the bullpen so far and should take the opportunity to find out what his stuff looks like in shorter bursts – let Aquino, Wilson, Asher, Ynoa ride the shuttle.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 6, 2017 at 10:28 am

    My glass is half empty.

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