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Zack Britton Feels Ready to Return From Hamstring Injury After Live Bullpen

SEATTLE — After throwing a live session at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Yankees reliever Zack Britton feels like he's in a "good spot" to return to New York's bullpen in the next few days. 

The veteran reliever faced three hitters a few hours before first pitch on Thursday afternoon as he works back from a left hamstring strain, sustained in Boston a few weeks ago.

Shortly after the simulated game—along with some conditioning, sprints and stretching on the outfield grass—Britton assured that he's been feeling good in his hamstring these last several days. Facing live hitters, Britton revealed that he was able to work on some of his pitches as well, an important step before he returns to the bullpen and in-game situations on the mound. 

"I think it was similar to last year where I came back [from a hamstring injury] in the 10 days or so," Britton said. "I was glad to get off the mound. I was executing really well, wasn't even worried about it. So I think I'm in a good spot. It's just a matter of what we want to do, what makes sense, weigh the pros and cons of everything."

In terms of when Britton could rejoin his teammates on the active roster, the reliever  could either be activated in Houston this weekend—in the final series before the All-Star Game—or wait until a series in the Bronx against the Red Sox later next week after the break. 

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Britton's live bullpen that the decision will be made soon, it just depends on how the left-hander comes through on Thursday after facing hitters. 

Asked if he has a preference of when he wants to come back from the injured list, Britton said he feels good enough to pitch right now. At this point, his only concern is protecting his left elbow after surgery that kept him sidelined through the first few months of the season.

"We're trying to protect the elbow too. That's still something I have to be aware of," Britton explained. "Does it make sense to do another live in Houston, or just be activated there and then after three days I'll be ready to go for Boston? We'll talk about all those things. Either way, I think I'm fine with whatever happens."

Britton had surgery in March to remove a bone chip in his elbow. He wasn't able to make his 2021 debut until June 12, making five appearances before the hamstring injury sent him back to the IL.

The veteran said Thursday that in retrospect, he might've decided to rehab through his elbow injury, allowing him to pitch the whole year. Now, he's forced to progress cautiously, making sure he's conditioned to pitch a normal mid-season workload when he didn't have a spring training to build up his elbow like usual.

Plus, with other members of New York's 'pen injured, and certain hurlers struggling, Britton feels even more pressure to come back healthy and help his team win games. 

"If I feel good, I know I can help us win, give some guys a little blow in the bullpen, guys have been throwing really well down there," he said. "These are big games for us. All these games right now, considering where we are. If I feel like I can be out there and help the team, then that's what I want to do."


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