Britton on Achilles' rupture: 'I'm beyond words' - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Britton on Achilles’ rupture: ‘I’m beyond words’

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Orioles closer Zach Britton, who was extremely pleased with his recovery from a season-ending knee injury, ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon while running sprints Tuesday in California and will have surgery Thursday.

There is no specific timetable for recovery yet — Britton will know more after foot specialist Dr. Kenneth Jung of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles performs surgery Thursday morning — but it is expected he likely won’t be able to pitch until roughly June or later. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the recovery time will be about six months.

“I don’t know how many months. I’ll probably know a little more after tomorrow,” Britton said in a telephone interview. “I’ll do everything I can do to make it on the shorter end, obviously. The fact I’m a pitcher makes it likely I can get back a little bit quicker.”

Britton, whose season was cut short due to a knee injury that required an injection in September, has been working out at the Boras Corporation facility in California all offseason. He felt like he was making great strides and had no knee or forearm pain (he also missed time last season due to a left forearm strain). He had been playing catch this month and was about to begin bullpen sessions.

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The Achilles injury occurred during routine conditioning work, Britton said. He was running sprints on a grass field and pushed off on his right leg, like normal. He suddenly felt a searing pain, while those he was training with heard a pop.

“I didn’t hear (the pop). But it felt like somebody kicked me in the back of the calf, kicked me in the leg. Other guys heard it,” he said. “It wasn’t like I was doing anything crazy, it was a straight forward sprint.”

Britton was examined Wednesday by Jung, who confirmed the rupture and recommended surgery. Britton said the drive back was one of the worst he’s ever experienced.

“The way home, me and my wife cried the whole time. It’s just about how much work I’ve put into getting back, it’s not about if the team may release me or anything like that,” Britton said. “I was back to playing catch and now it has reset all over again. That’s the frustrating part. You put so much time in and now there’s another thing. It takes a toll on you and your family. … I don’t know if I’ve been that mad or sad over something like that in baseball before. I mean, I’ve never been seriously injured before, never anything I couldn’t get back from pretty quickly.”

While Britton is out for at least the first chunk of the 2018 season, the Orioles will have a painful business decision to make. They’ve already tendered Britton a contract for next year, and he was expected to make in the $12 to $13 million range in his last season of arbitration before hitting free agency. They can release him between now and late February and be on the hook for roughly 30 days of that salary.

That’s the smart financial move. However, Britton has been with the organization longer than any other player — he was a third-round pick in 2006 — and owner Peter Angelos is often fiercely loyal to his long-term employees.

Plus, there is a possibility Britton could return by June and be a trade candidate by July 31. But his current value on the trade market is now non-existent, crushing the Orioles’ chances of dealing him this winter for prospects. It also makes it more difficult for the Orioles to deal set-up man Brad Brach, also a free agent next winter, if they want to compete this season.

For now, though, the concentration is on Britton, and the unfortunate blow he’s been dealt right before he turns 30 Friday.

“I’m beyond words,” Britton said. “My 29th year hasn’t treated me real well. Maybe 30 will be better.”

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    December 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    it’s Givens turn. Brach isn’t going to cut it.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 20, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      I would not share that sentiment. Brach isn’t Britton. But he’s pretty darn good.

  2. general81

    December 20, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    “It also makes it more difficult for the Orioles to deal set-up man Brad Brach … ”

    Difficult in that other teams expect him to be our closer with Zach out. However, at this point, if we trade Manny, there is absolutely no reason to keep Brach – trade him for the best offer we get, make 2018 truly a rebuilding year, and make 2019 the start of something new. Oh, and keep Zach for this year – we can showcase him laste in the season if he comes back in time … and if not, sign him to one of those one-year “prove it!” contracts for 2019.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 20, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Hey General, you took me out of context on my own site. :). The rest of that was “if they want to compete this season.” That’s what has to be figured out.

  3. bickel57

    December 20, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    It is bad Orioles luck. It is to bad for him. But I would still trade Brach and turn the reigns over to Givens. If Britton does come back later in the season you wouldn’t get much for him because all the injuries he has had recently. With Boris as his agent he wouldn’t sign any deal giving Orioles another year. So you might want to think of the future and get the next closet in place.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 20, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      That’s fair. Though if the Orioles decide they want to compete for 2018, then they’re better off with Brach and Givens. Not sure I buy the competition thing, though.

  4. sjm5131

    December 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I think that the best way for both team and player to salvage something out of an unfortunate situation is to sign Britton to a 2 year contract (at a reduced price) to allow Britton to complete his rehab while under contract. Someone will give Britton a chance, and it should be the Orioles.

    Ideally, Britton returns in July, freeing the team to trade Brach. If Britton performs well, he could be traded to a contender next winter or deadline 2019.

    The worst case scenario is that his comeback flops and the Orioles waste some money. This to me seems like a minimal risk, considering that any player they sign with any savings from releasing Britton is likely going to carry the same risks. It’s not as if this injury frees up resources that will be put to better use, and if Britton never regains form, at least the team showed some loyalty to its longest-tenured player.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 20, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      The question is why Britton would do that. It’s not an arm injury and so he’d probably bet on himself in 2019 so long as he can pitch and prove he is healthy in 2018. Will be an interesting thing to watch

  5. Orial

    December 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    A real blow. For him,the organization,the team’s chances of moving forward. Hope this doesn’t detail any rebuilding plan that they had. Talk about snake bitten. The Orioles need some positive news. Now I feel so negative that I expect Schoop to state he won’t accept any extension. Damn this doom and gloom has to come to an end. Seems like MLB is passing them by.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 20, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Can’t imagine Schoop would say that with two years to play. Course, you have to ask.

  6. Orial

    December 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Meant to say derail not derail.

  7. willmiranda

    December 20, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Time for Angelos to break out the law books ans sue Boras. He should be able to find some negligence in that training facility. I read somewhere that Bill Belichik isn’t too happy with Brady going there. Be nice to get some money back from Boras. Or maybe he’d settle for giving us the services of some of his clients. I can dream, can’t I?

    • Bancells Moustache

      December 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      If anyone can hammer Scott Boras in a courtroom, the Law Offices of Peter Angelos is a pretty safe bet.

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