Orioles closer Britton targets May return

Orioles closer Zach Britton continues to recover from a torn Achilles and has targeted a May return, not to mention a greater goal: a new deal to stay in Baltimore beyond this season.

Britton ruptured his right Achilles tendon in December following a 2-1 record and 15 saves in 38 appearances in 2017.

He is scheduled to throw in a boot for the first time this week. Britton said he hopes to be playing by May as he revs up for what could be his final season with the franchise. Britton, 30, is a free agent in November.

"I've been here since I was 18 years old. It would be really weird to be in another clubhouse in a different uniform," said Britton, who is the longest-tenured active Oriole. "I think my situation is the same as a lot of other guys. A lot of guys in here would like to be back, it's just about the opportunity. A lot of us haven't been presented with the opportunity to even consider coming back at this point. I'm sure there will be some talks at some point, and we'll go from there. But I don't even have anything to consider at this point. I'm kind of in the same boat as a lot of guys."

Britton said he understands the Orioles are facing a "tough decision" on whether to commit to key players on the current roster -- including shortstop Manny Machado and centerfielder Adam Jones -- but he's hopeful the opportunity to stay presents itself before the end of the season.

"I think they would love to keep a lot of guys here who they've had here for a long time. I just don't know where they see the organization going next year," Britton said.

There are a few hurdles for Britton to clear before the Orioles are ready to put him back in his familiar ninth-inning role. Doctors advised he needed at least 12 full weeks for the tendon to heal from surgery. From there, it could be another 4-6 weeks before he recovers range of motion and builds explosiveness.

"I'm doing my physical therapy, and just trying to get back on the field," Britton said.

--Field Level Media

02/14/2018 14:17

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