The All-Star reliever said how his ankle, which has no structural damage per an MRI taken Tuesday, reacts to the baseball activities will go a long way toward determining when he'll return to game action.
“I think this week is a good timeline,” Britton said. “I’m not sure exactly whether that’s today — sorry, it’s not going to be today — but tomorrow or the next day. But once I throw outside, I’ll have a better idea.”
The main issue now is just the inflammation in the ankle, which he jammed trying to field a drag bunt by simultaneously scooping and flipping it from his glove to first baseman Chris Davis in the ninth inning of Saturday’s loss to the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s kind of just waiting until that gets out of there, but I’m feeling good today, walking a lot better, pretty much normal walking-wise,” Britton said. “So I’m going to go out there and play catch right now and kind of see how it feels. Just take it easy, little baby steps and see how it feels.
“If it feels good playing catch, then I can progress to maybe doing a flat-ground then come back in and talk to [head trainer Richie Bancells], talk to [manager Buck Showalter] — I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to him yet — so once I do that, I’ll have some more information about what’s going to happen.”
Showalter was again mum on who the closer would be while Britton is out, but veteran reliever Darren O’Day said the Orioles will manage.
“There’s a couple ways to go about it," O'Day said. "I don’t know what’s going to happen. At the end of last year, when Zach needed time off, I closed every game. We just pushed everything back an inning. … Really, I have confidence in everybody in our bullpen to close a game. I don’t know what he’s going to do. We’ll see. We’ll find out. Hopefully it’s not too long. Zach is moving around a little better today. Hopefully it’s just a day or two.”
O’Day said the Orioles “have a lot of guys who have, I guess what you call late-inning stuff."
“That’s kind of how baseball has come," O'Day said. "You’ve gone from having one closer to having three closers, or guys with closer stuff. Brad [Brach], Mike [Givens], they’ve both been closers at one point in their career. I closed in the minor leagues. [Dylan Bundy's] new to the bullpen, but yeah. … We have confidence that any one of us can do it.”
Britton said there's a balance to strike between rushing back and taking too long to return from the injury.
"I think there’s a fine line," he said. "It’s early in the year, but at the same time, games matter early in the season just as much as at the end of the year. I want to get back as quickly as I can and help the guys in the bullpen."