BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter offered a favorable report on closer Zach Britton after Friday night’s 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.
The two-time All-Star reliever underwent an MRI on his left forearm and elbow on Friday that brought no serious concerns, according to the manager.
“Looked good. They did everything. The elbow looked really good,” Showalter said. “That bodes well, obviously, down the road. They found what they thought they would find. We’re moving forward with nothing to hold back his continued progress.”
Placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left forearm strain last Sunday, Britton hasn’t pitched since feeling forearm discomfort while throwing his slider on April 14. The 29-year-old told reporters earlier in the week that the strain was closer to his wrist than his elbow.
It remains unclear when Britton will begin throwing again, but it may not be too long based on the apparent MRI results and the left-hander’s comments to his manager in Cincinnati on Thursday.
“He feels good. He was ready to pitch,” Showalter said before Friday’s game. “Yesterday in the dugout, he said, ‘I’m ready to throw. I’ll get this MRI just to [make sure].’ He was chomping at the bit yesterday. He said, ‘I feel good. I’m ready to go.’”
In Britton’s absence, 2016 All-Star setup man Brad Brach has converted all three of his save opportunities, temporarily easing the concern of not having the man who’s converted 54 save chances in a row.
It’s been a difficult start to 2017 for Britton, who missed a portion of spring training with a strained oblique. Asked whether the disruption created by that ailment may have contributed to Britton’s forearm injury, Showalter didn’t dismiss the possible cause-and-effect relationship.
“It’d be easy for me to say absolutely not,” Showalter said. “Everything’s related to everything, but it has nothing to do with his velocity or his movement. It may have had something to do with his command a little bit. It’s like the whole question about the [World Baseball Classic and this or that. Yeah, everything has a point, counterpoint. But Zach’s not talking about [the spring] too much.”
Britton has converted all five of his save opportunities and has pitched to a 1.29 ERA so far this season, but he has allowed 10 hits and issued three walks in only seven innings. In 2016, he posted an unbelievable 0.54 ERA and went 47-for-47 in save chances to win the American League reliever of the year award.