BALTIMORE—It was strange. Zach Britton had never been to the visitors’ clubhouse, and his departure from the Orioles precisely one month before was so abrupt that he hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye to everyone he wanted to.
Now, he was back facing the team he spent so long with. There was the obligatory pregame scrum with the writers he’d known for so many years, and others he’s known for only a few weeks.
Then, there was the salute on the scoreboard, which showed the Oriole Park crowd Britton sitting in the Yankees’ bullpen. After the loud cheers, Britton took off his cap and began waving it.
Finally, it was closing time. The Yankees had a three-run lead in the 10th, and Britton came on to try to save the game. But there was no AC/DC to accompany his entrance this time.
Adam Jones led off with a single, but Britton got Trey Mancini to hit into a double play. Then, Chris Davis hit a long home run before Tim Beckham grounded out to first, and Britton had his first save with the Yankees in a 7-5 win over the Orioles on Friday.
“It was weird,” Britton said. “Obviously. it was nice to get into a save situations, but definitely weird facing the guys who I’ve been with for so long.”
Britton has had some rough moments with New York, and remembered he got traded after a rain-delayed game. The word didn’t become official until almost midnight.
“I got traded late in the day, so I think a lot of people didn’t get to see their goodbyes,” Britton said about the crowd’s ovation. “That was kind of their way, and that was pretty cool. I appreciate it.”
Davis let him know immediately how he felt facing him.
“It was the first thing I think he did when he got back in, was text me,” Britton said.
Before the game, he remembered the eventful month, all the trade speculation and the quick departure from the organization he played with for 12 years.
“Going from the situation in Baltimore, where they were losing a lot of games to New York and being in the hunt again, there’s something about that that gets you excited. It seems like it goes a lot faster when you’re winning,” Britton said.
“It’s been a long season for them. It was nice to go to a team that’s winning, get my mind off some injury stuff, get back into a situation where each win was important, and they continue to be.”
Even sitting in an empty stadium brought back memories.
“I remember the first time I came here, made my first major league start, playoff games here, closing games here.”
Britton’s departure was the second in the torrent of Orioles trades. Manny Machado had been traded the week before, and while the Orioles were in New York, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and Jonathan Schoop followed Britton out of town.
He hung out with the now-senior relief pitcher, Mychal Givens, during Orioles batting practice.
“It was just fun to see the guys,” Britton said. “A lot of guys have gotten traded from this team, so it’s not the same team I left, but it’s just good to see the guys that I have a relationship with.”
Before the game, manager Buck Showalter predicted that the crowd would greet Britton warmly if he came into the game.
“We have great fans, very knowledgeable, and they know what Zach did here and has done here and will continue to do for quite a while in his career,” Showalter said.
“He’s in a good place. He’s strong as a horse. He’s healthy. He’s going to be a real weapon for them as they go forward. I don’t think anybody looks forward to seeing Zach come in against them. They’ve got a lot of weapons down there.”
Postgame, Showalter didn’t seem sentimental about Britton, who he managed for more than seven years. He acknowledged that it was strange to be facing him, but quickly moved on.
They’ve got four or five closers, guys with a lot of experience,” Showalter said. “They’re lucky to have Zach. He’s going to be quite a contributor before the whole thing is over.”
Trumbo weighing surgery
Mark Trumbo, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an inflamed right knee Aug. 20, is considering surgery.
Trumbo, who was on the field before Friday’s game, said he would head to Northern California next week for another opinion.
“I don’t have anything totally conclusive. I needed to speak with a few people today,” Trumbo said. “I’m going to travel to Northern California on Wednesday and receive a few additional inputs before deciding what exactly makes the most sense.”
Trumbo, who is batting .261 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs, missed the first month of the season because of a strained right quad.
“I think at this point it’s probably the best option,” Trumbo said of surgery. “I haven’t obviously made that decision completely.”
Trumbo expects to make a decision after his appointment next week.
“He’s gathering opinions from our people and some of the best, most experienced people in the country,” Showalter said. “He’ll make a good, educated decision on the course of action.”