SARASOTA, Fla. - While Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop and pitcher Miguel Castro are sidelined indefinitely with elbow and knee conditions, respectively, closer Zach Britton is preparing for his second round of catch this morning as he slowly works his way back to the mound.
Britton is following up on his first flat-ground throwing session on Thursday at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
“I think we’re going to be on an every-other-day schedule, obviously depending on how I feel and things like that, and then kind of just see how it is, see how I’m feeling,” said Britton, who underwent Achilles surgery on Dec. 21 in Los Angeles.
“I feel really good right now out of the boot. I’m only wearing it now in the gym just to be safe, and playing catch. We might even ankle tape it (today) and play catch without the boot. It’s kind of a feel thing, the doctor said. Do it and see how you feel. If you feel like you’re not sure, just put the boot back on and maybe try it the next time. It’s kind of like a touch and feel stage for us right now. But we’re still on schedule.
“We’ve got three more weeks until the 12 weeks and then I’m approved to really pick up the pace on certain things. But right now it’s a pretty tight schedule. I can do a lot with what I’m allowed to do, but anything outside of that, we’re just trying to be really, really cautious at this stage. We don’t want any setbacks at this point. We’re so far along.”
Once Britton clears the 12-week mark, he can increase activities to include running on the underwater treadmill. Sounds like a modest gain unless you’ve ruptured an Achilles while doing sprints and were brought to tears from the disappointment.
“We’ll probably do that for about a week, and then we’ll attempt outside running, which will be a big test,” he said. “I think more mentally. Physically, I’ll be ready to go. It’s going to be a lot of mental hurdles to pass.”
Britton initially was supposed to play catch in the boot eight weeks following the surgery, performed by Dr. Kenneth Jung of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic.
“We decided, what the heck, what’s another week? Let’s wait until nine,” he said. “And we know my arm’s going to be way ahead of other parts of my body, but it was nice to get out there and throw. That’s for sure.”
No target date has been set for Britton to climb on a mound and aim below the strings. Or one of the half mounds for pitchers recovering from injury or surgery.
There’s no rush. Britton is on the 60-day disabled list and eligible to return on May 28.
“My understanding is after the 12 weeks a lot of that was just the communication between (Brian) Ebel, myself and the doctor and our team doctors, as well, and just kind of seeing where we are,” Britton said. “They obviously can see it and put their hands on the Achilles and things. The doctors in California can’t. (Jung) just knows from experience when this thing is supposed to be healed and how quickly you should ramp things up.
“It’s all about easing in the baseball activities. I think the stuff on the mound they’re not actually as worried about as running off the mound and covering first. The pitching aspect they’re not really worried about. It’s the other things that come with being a pitcher that they’re more concerned about right now.”