Britton on his shoulder
I just got off the phone with Orioles lefty Zach Britton and –while I’ll have a full updated story on Orioles.com shortly– I wanted to take a minute and briefly update you on what he had to say.
Basically, when Britton came off the disabled list with a left shoulder strain last season he was still dealing with some inflammation. It wasn’t enough for him to not pitch and he just dealt with it by taking some anti-inflammatories. He sat down with team orthopedist Dr. Wilckens after the season ended to tell him what was going on, and the thought was the inflammation would go away given the rest from the offseason.
But when Britton started resuming a throwing program in mid-December, he was still dealing with inflammation and the Orioles had him fly to Baltimore to see Wilckens again. The diagnosis was his shoulder area was still weak, so Britton was started on a physical therapy program to try to strengthen that area. Since he lives in Texas, he started seeing Dr. Keith Meister –who works with the Rangers — and he had an MRI which showed no structural damage and was normal by baseball’s standards for a starting pitcher.
The inflammation was creeping up mostly when Britton would try to throw consecutive days since his shoulder had no time to rest and recover in between, and it started to alter his arm slot as a result. That’s why he’s been working on rehabbing the area and adding strength at TMI Sports Medicine with Dr. Meister and he’s been taking stronger anti-inflammatories (which he wasn’t taken at all when he started to throw in December).
Britton reported to camp early to work one-on-one with Orioles head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and said the early reports have been favorable regarding his strength and shoulder exercises.
The plan is for him to throw from about 90 feet on Thursday to see how things go, and Britton said the issue –which he and the Orioles have known about since mid-December — is a minor one. He had gotten back to about 200 feet long toss earlier this winter, so right now the 24-year-old Britton said he’s optimistic if all goes well throwing he wont be more than a bullpen or two behind.
It’s far to early to speculate his availability, but it’s early enough in the year that Britton didn’t foresee this issue being something that would hamper his chances at making the rotation. If all goes well Thursday, he could be put on a progression that would easily have him ready for Opening Day. The key issue is getting rid of the lingering inflammation that, for whatever reason, his shoulder holds on to a little longer than most.