Zack Britton returns to Yankees after Tommy John surgery
Zack Britton prepared to walk out to the bullpen for his first major league game in 13 months. He was hoping Aaron Judge would send home run No. 61 into the New York Yankees bullpen in right-center.
"I'm thinking if I catch the next one or something, it might go for a pretty penny," Britton said before Thursday night's 5-4, 10-inning win over Boston. “I’ll be out there with the glove on.”
Britton, who did not pitch in the game, was activated one year and two weeks after the left-hander had Tommy John surgery.
"I feel like if I get enough innings that I can be myself and I can help in the postseason," he said. “Time will tell if that’s going to be the case, but that’s my goal.”
New York placed left-hander Wandy Peralta on the 15-day injured list with left thoracic spine tightness, a move retroactive to Monday. To open a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated infielder-outfielder Miguel Andújar for assignment.
Britton, a 34-year-old reliever, made eight minor league injury rehabilitation appearances from Aug. 24 through Tuesday, allowing one run and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings for Class A Tampa, Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He struck out seven and walked two.
"The sinker has been really good," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He hasn’t been throwing as hard as he typically does. I think part of that’s been by design."
A two-time All-Star, Britton was operated on by Los Angeles Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Sept. 8 last year. Britton had the UCL in his left elbow reconstructed and also had a bone chip removed.
Britton has 154 saves in 11 major league seasons and is eligible for free agency after the World Series.
He had eight saves and a 1.89 ERA during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He didn’t make his season debut last year until June 12 following arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip in his left elbow. Then he spent more time on the injured list with a hamstring strain.
Britton was 0-1 with a 5.89 ERA and just one save in 22 appearances. He last pitched for the Yankees on Aug. 19, 2021, against Minnesota, then felt pain three days later prior to a rained-out game against the Twins.
Peralta, a 31-year-old left-hander, last pitched Monday. He had a scan, and Boone said earlier Thursday that Peralta could return next week.
“We don’t think it’s serious, something that’s popped up a couple of times over the last four or six weeks," Boone said. “It’s something we want to knock out right now. And hopefully, a couple more days we start ramping him up again.”