Orioles closer Zach Britton said if he could have a do-over for his first stint on the disabled list this season, he would have listened more intently to the club’s medical staff and rested the strained muscle in his left forearm for a longer period. But he thought was fine and wanted to come back quickly to help his team.
“You’ve got to respect their opinion. They see this stuff all the time, but a lot of time they tell you it’s based on how you feel and I felt OK. I wasn’t throwing. I felt like I recovered,” Britton said. “I went down to (Double-A) Bowie and felt pretty good. Maybe the cold in Boston didn’t help it either. But I didn’t think I was going to have a setback like this.”
On Saturday afternoon, Britton was placed back on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left forearm, the same injury that kept him out of action from April 16 until Tuesday. He pitched in two games – Tuesday and Thursday – and felt soreness again in the same area early Friday morning.
He said he kind of knew something was wrong during his outings because his pitches weren’t as crisp, and his devastating – and natural — sinker wasn’t moving properly.
“It’s frustrating. I didn’t think that was going to happen, especially so soon after coming back. But I knew I wasn’t back, with like extension or finish on my pitches, all the way. Talking with (catcher Caleb Joseph), it seemed like after my pitch count got around 10, balls started flattening out a little bit more. And for something that happens so naturally for me, to sink the ball, when … something that I do that’s so natural (and) I’m having a hard time doing it, I want to get that issue fixed, so I can get back and do what I do well.”
There’s no set timetable for Britton’s return, but given the feeling he rushed himself back, it likely will be beyond the requisite 10 days.
“I would assume so (it will be longer than 10 days),” Britton said. “But, if anything, it’s because we’re going to be cautious with it.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the team is always cautious with its players, but Britton passed every test on his way back to the club.
“I’m not one who deals with hindsights or whatever. He answered a lot of questions with his outing [in the Minor Leagues]. We threw him an extra outing down there to be sure,” Showalter said. “I don’t look back at it with any regret. We were where we needed to be with it. I look forward to him getting back as soon as possible.”
Britton will get a better idea of a timetable once he visits renowned sports medicine specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache at 3 p.m. Monday in Los Angeles for a second opinion. ElAttrache has already reviewed Britton’s previous MRIs and agrees with Orioles orthopedist Michael Jacobs that there is no damage to the elbow and it is simply a strained muscle in the forearm that did not heal fully.
After the doctor’s visit, Britton is expected to go to Sarasota, Fla., to undergo treatment before resuming baseball activities at a later date.
With Britton going on the disabled list, the Orioles recalled right-hander Alec Asher from Triple-A Norfolk. Asher was not eligible to be recalled from the minors until May 14 since he was optioned May 4, but the 10-day rule is waived if the player is replacing someone on the disabled list.
The Orioles also placed right-hander Gabriel Ynoa on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain after his excellent relief outing (six scoreless innings) Friday night. Right-hander Logan Verrett was recalled to Camden Yards on Saturday afternoon. He, too, could come up earlier than eligible (May 11) because he was replacing a player on the DL.
“His hamstring is pretty sore today,” Showalter said of Ynoa. “A lot of times when a guy says that’s a cramp, it’s usually a precursor to something else.”
In other Orioles news, Jonathan Schoop, who was hit in the hand Friday, is dealing with swelling in his palm and was not in Saturday’s lineup. Schoop had played in 190 consecutive games, the second longest in the majors. Ryan Flaherty started at second base.
The Orioles acquired right-hander Jordan Kipper from the Los Angeles Angels in return for right-hander Damien Magnifico, whom the Orioles designated for assignment Tuesday. Kipper, 24, was 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA in five starts with Double-A Mobile. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder was selected in the ninth round by the Angels in the 2012 draft out of Texas Christian University.
Lefty Wade Miley said his left wrist was fine after being hit by a liner Friday. He expects to make his next start.