Earlier on Tuesday, it was reported that Zack Britton had to have an MRI done on Monday for his ailing left elbow after experiencing some pain in a bullpen session the day before. The Yankees didn’t think that it had to do with his UCL, but it still needed to be checked out.
The good news is that it is indeed not a UCL injury, but Britton does have bone chips in his elbow and will need surgery to remove them. The Yankees announced that Britton would return to New York tomorrow and would have the procedure done to remove them in the next few days.
After the Yankees’ spring training game this afternoon, Aaron Boone was very careful to say that the team did not have a definite timetable for Britton’s return, as they are at least going to wait until after the surgery to reveal any details. If you’re looking for any guesses, though? ESPN’s Jeff Passan said that expected recovery time for the 33-year-old is “at least a month—usually more,” and SNY’s Andy Martino heard that Britton will be shut down for six weeks and is expected to be out three to four months.
Third baseman Gio Urshela had offseason surgery in early December to remove bone chips of his own in his right elbow, and the timetable for his return was set at three months. Position players and pitchers are two different beasts, but Urshela only just returned to spring training action last week.
The bottom line is that I don’t expect to see Britton pitching in pinstripes again until June at the absolute earliest. As noted earlier, the Yankees will need the rest of their bullpen additions to step up in Britton’s absence, as Chad Green, Darren O’Day, and Justin Wilson will move up in the pecking order. It’s tough to lose a reliever as reliable as Britton for any stretch of time, but at least the Yankees have better bullpen backup plans than most teams to help out while he recovers.