Zack Britton returned to the Yankees clubhouse on Wednesday, but he will have to wait a few more days to make his long-awaited return to the mound.
Just over 12 months away from UCL surgery on his left elbow, Britton completed his rehabilitation assignment Tuesday night and arrived in The Bronx on Wednesday feeling healthy, awaiting a decision from the Yankees on when he will be activated from the 60-day injured list.
“For me, I’m physically ready to come back and throw,” Britton said before the Yankees defeated the Pirates 14-2. “It’s just what they want to do.”
The wait for the Yankees to finish comes as they have to make sure they are protected in the bullpen for the next few days, knowing that starters Luis Severino on Wednesday and Domingo German on Saturday would be on a limited number of pitches.
Britton made eight appearances during his rehab assignment, no longer than an inning and none on back-to-back days.
“We just need to see where we are from a coverage point of view, day to day,” said manager Aaron Boone.
The Yankees plan to activate reliever Scott Effross (shoulder strain) of the 15-day IL on Thursday, and rookie Greg Weisset, who pitched a scoreless inning in the Yankees’ win, was given the option to win Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes -Barre to make. room. But the Yankees will eventually have to open another spot on the list for Britton – in addition to clearing a spot on the 40-man roster – which could force a decision on whether or not to pick a reliever like Ron Marinaccio, Clarke Schmidt or Lou Trivino.
When he returns, Britton jumps straight into a playoff race with less than two weeks left in the regular season.
“I think it’s just getting volume,” Britton said. “The sooner I get back and [am] able to get some games under my belt the better i feel helping the team in the post season. ”
That post-season opportunity is what prompted Britton, a pending free agent, to be back in time to pitch this year.
“The reason I was pushing things is because I want to pitch for this team this year to help them win,” he said. “There is no benefit to me personally other than the fact that I might be able to make an impact on a World Series championship team. That’s really the only goal for me at this stage of my career. I got my contract. Thirty-four years old. My reasons are very different now than when I was younger. I want a ring. That’s why I pushed this to come back and be an option for the team. So whether they activate me or not is up to them.”
The Yankees could certainly use a reliable Brit, especially with the back of their bullpen currently in flux amid recent struggles from Clay Holmes and an unpredictable Aroldis Chapman.
“I think we have to do it on a match-up kind of basis, let’s put these guys in front of these few batters that we think are the absolute best situation for them,” Boone said. “I think there’s a lot of good stuff going on there and there’s a lot of good options and different guys coming back into the mix that can help. But figuring out and capturing those roles and where they’re best equipped will be here in this last one.” days are important.”