Orioles injured closer Zach Britton said if his muscle strain is going to keep him out of action for 45 to 60 days, it’s news to him.
“Sixty days was never something that was brought up to me (by doctors),” Britton said by phone Tuesday. “So, I’m as shocked as anybody to read 60 days.”
Britton was placed on the disabled list Saturday for the second time this season with a left forearm strain. Britton traveled to California and was re-examined by sports medicine specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday.
Britton said the diagnosis was the same as what team doctors discovered: That the muscle was strained, but there was no damage to his left elbow or its ligaments. He said he was told to fly to Sarasota, Fla., for treatment and that he would begin a throwing progression in roughly 10 days. It would begin with a short catch and move on from there.
However, several reports Tuesday afternoon quoted an industry source saying that Britton would be out 45 to 60 days.
Those specific numbers were never discussed during his examination, said Britton, who said that vice president Brady Anderson was present during the conversation with ElAttrache, as was an independent hand specialist and the medical director of The Boras Corporation, which represents Britton.
“The only mention of 45 days was I kind of picked his brain, ElAttrache. I asked what he was thinking, and the only thing ever mentioned about a specific amount of days is that he said he would be surprised if I wasn’t pitching in a big league game in 45 days. That was it,” Britton said. “But that was kind of in a casual conversation. There was no real timeframe put on my injury. That 45-to-60 days was never something that was brought up to me or anybody else that was in that room.”
He said the group did discuss a plan for recovery, but no specific return was set.
“Not a timeframe in days, but this is what my schedule is going to look like leading up to my throwing progression in about 10 days or so,” Britton said. And even that day itself is up in the air because (ElAttrache) wants me to be asymptomatic, make sure I have no stiffness or soreness and have range of motion.”
At this point, Britton said he doesn’t feel any discomfort in the forearm, but he didn’t at this time last week either. He pitched two games for the Orioles and the discomfort re-emerged. So, he and the Orioles are obviously going to be careful with the injury to make sure once their All Star closer is back, he remains on the mound.
“I’m pretty much asymptomatic now. After taking a few days off, I feel completely normal now. So, give it another week or so or more and then start the throwing progression and go from there and ease into it,” he said. “(ElAttrache) mentioned that it’s very similar to a hamstring injury, where you’ve got to ease back into it, you can’t go out and sprint right away. Otherwise, you could re-aggravate it. It’s something you have to be patient with and build up and get it back to where you want to be. But, at the same time, being a reliever, throwing one inning, that’s stuff that works to my benefit later on in the back-end of the rehab, because I’m not building up to five or six innings (like a starter).”
Ultimately, Britton said he is confident he can return this season to the level that has made him one of baseball’s most dominant closers. It’ll take a little time, especially knowing he’ll have to go on a minor league rehab assignment as well. But at this point he’s certainly not thinking two months.
“Talking with the hand specialist that was there with ElAttrache, it’s kind of a unique injury. But the best thing about it is the muscle. It has good blood supply going through the muscle, so it’s gonna heal,” Britton said. “It’s just a matter of how much time we need to give it. There are really no days (set), especially not 60 days.”