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Orioles Closer Zach Britton Talks Recovery, Free Agency

February 14, 2018
SARASOTA, Fla. -- If this were a normal spring training for Orioles closer Zach Britton, the left-hander would have been peppered with questions about his contract status.
Instead, Britton, who is eligible for free agency after this season, is spending his media time talking mostly about his recovery from December surgery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon.
Britton, who would like to return quicker than the estimated six-month recovery initially forecasted, is happy with the rehabilitation.
"It's going well. I've been here for the last three days," Britton said before the first workout for pitchers and catchers Feb. 14
"Saw the doctor on Friday and flew out here. It's been going well. We obviously have a lot of things here that we didn't have when I was at physical therapy. We have different devices. We have an underwater treadmill, and I think all of those things will speed up the recovery. So far the last few days have been great, and we'll see how this week kind of finishes out, and then we go into the weekend and maybe start throwing in the boot."
The affable Britton, who missed most of the first half of 2017 with a left elbow injury, was the subject of trade talks in July. No deal was consummated, and Britton stayed in Baltimore.  

Last year, Britton went 2-1 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 38 games.

Now, the 30-year-old Britton is staying involved by mentoring younger pitchers.
"I still plan to be involved. I'm going to be with the team, hopefully pretty quickly in the season," Britton said. "I want to be a part. Hopefully, this isn't my last year here, but I want to enjoy the spring. Obviously, I'm not going to have a spring, which stinks, but enjoy it because I don't know if I'll be here next year."
Along with Britton, fellow reliever Brad Brach, shortstop Manny Machado and center fielder Adam Jones are also eligible for free agency after the 2018 season.  

Britton, who was drafted by the Orioles in the third round of the 2006 draft, said he would like to stay in Baltimore.
"It would be nice. I've been here since I was 18 years old," Britton said. "It would be really weird to be in another clubhouse in a different uniform. 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, however, isn't sure if the Orioles want him to return.

"That's a tough question. I think they absolutely would like to have a lot of guys back," Britton said. "Whether or not that's realistic contract-wise, I don't know. But 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."

Follow Rich on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox