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Baseball Daily Dose

Britton Bound For Surgery

by Drew Silva
Updated On: March 10, 2021, 10:15 am ET

We’ll be wrapping up the positional preview episodes of the Circling the Bases podcast later this week with an in-depth look at this year’s crop of fantasy-relevant relievers. Our episodes covering first base, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, catcher, and starting pitcher are already ready for your listening and/or viewing pleasure.

A reliever who suddenly seems not-so-fantasy-relevant, at least in terms of draft-day appeal, is Yankees left-hander Zack Britton.

It was announced Tuesday that the 33-year-old is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow on Thursday or Friday back in New York after an MRI taken Tuesday revealed a bone chip that needs immediate removal. He will be shut down for the next six weeks and might not be able to make his 2021 regular season debut until sometime in June.

Britton contracted COVID-19 over the winter, which affected his readiness at the start of Yankees camp in Tampa, Florida, but it’s likely that this bone chip would have reared its ugly head at some point even if his offseason training program had gone completely according to plan

Keeping track of time and place in the pandemic era is a tall task, but NBC Sports EDGE readers might remember that Aroldis Chapman opened the 2020 season on the COVID-19 injured list and didn’t appear in a game for the Yankees until August 17. That allowed Britton a three-week run in the closer role for New York, and he actually stood as the MLB leader in saves with eight on the day of Chapman’s debut. And though he didn’t earn another save the rest of the way, Britton finished with a stingy 1.89 ERA in 20 total regular season appearances and was poised for an early-season save or two this year with Chapman having to serve a two-game suspension for throwing at Mike Brosseau of the Rays last September.

Chad Green was already going to have a prominent setup role and suddenly appears to be second-in-line for the Yanks’ ninth-inning gig -- maybe even first-in-line come Opening Day and the game to follow. Offseason additions Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson are climbing up that bullpen depth chart too.

Alvarez Now Closer Than Bregman

Astros manager Dusty Baker said last week that Alex Bregman (hamstring) was closer to making his Grapefruit League debut than Yordan Alvarez (knees), but the veteran skipper then flipped that script in somewhat concerning fashion during a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

“(Bregman) is still a little bit down on his strength in his hamstring,” said Baker, via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. “We certainly can’t rush a hamstring or it will be chronic all year long. We got to get it up to speed strength wise.”

This hamstring issue first popped up for Bregman during an offseason workout and he has been unable to shake it three weeks into camp. Precaution is fine and understandable in early March, but the midpoint of March is fast approaching and Opening Day looms on April 1. The third baseman could use a big helping of exhibition reps after mostly underwhelming with a .242/.350/.451 slash line, six home runs, and 22 RBI in 42 regular season games in 2020. He also batted just .220/.316/.300 across 57 plate appearances in the playoffs.

Alvarez, meanwhile, has begun to make considerable progress in his recovery from dual knee surgeries and could start seeing at-bats out of the DH spot sometime early next week. He appeared in only two games in 2020 but posted a brilliant .313/.412/.655 batting line with 27 homers and 78 RBI over his first 87 major league games in 2019. The young slugger is currently being selected around the 59th overall pick in the average Yahoo draft for 2021.

Mikolas Concern, Reyes To ‘Pen

If the Cardinals could hit the rewind button, they might have tried to make a bigger play for Jake Odorizzi, who signed a two-year, $20.25 million free agent contract with the Astros on Saturday afternoon.

Miles Mikolas was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday in Jupiter, Florida but is going to spend the day undergoing imaging tests instead for what has been described as “creaky” shoulder. He missed all of 2020 due to a flexor tendon strain in his right elbow, but the hope had been that he could return as a reliable part of the rotation in 2021 and possibly offer some late-round fantasy value.

In another development for that St. Louis rotation competition, manager Mike Shildt announced Tuesday that Alex Reyes is going to open the year in the bullpen and probably stay there for the duration so that his workload can be better controlled. The oft-injured 26-year-old has regained some of the electric stuff that made him a top prospect in the early part of his professional career, but it’s probably not fair to ask him to be a 150-plus inning savior right now. He projects to operate in a high-leverage -- possibly multi-inning -- relief role and might be a consideration for saves if Jordan Hicks hits some road blocks in his first year back from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.

John Gant, accordingly, has moved into the conversation for a spot in the season-opening starting mix.

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National League Quick Hits: Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Tuesday that Fernando Tatis Jr. is dealing with "aches and pains" in his body but could return to Cactus League action as early as Thursday … Mike Soroka, who’s recovering from a torn Achilles, has thrown batting practice on three occasions this spring … Dinelson Lamet is scheduled for another simulated game or live batting practice session before potentially making his Cactus League debut … Harrison Bader (forearm) is expected to return to the Cardinals' Grapefruit League lineup on Wednesday … Jackie Bradley Jr. will make his Cactus League debut with the Brewers on Saturday … Stephen Strasburg tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut Tuesday versus the Astros … Hector Neris gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday in Grapefruit League play versus the Blue Jays … There is no timetable yet for Carlos Carrasco's spring debut, per Mets manager Luis Rojas … Carlos Martinez blanked the Mets for three innings in his Grapefruit League start Tuesday … Joc Pederson socked his third Cactus League homer and added an RBI double Tuesday in the Cubs' comeback win over the Athletics … Adam Frazier went 3-for-3 as the Pirates' leadoff man Tuesday in Grapefruit League action against the Braves … Pedro Strop was cleared to rejoin Cubs camp on Tuesday after violating COVID-19 protocols … Ray Black is dealing with elbow inflammation and won't throw for a couple of days, per Brewers manager Craig Counsell.

American League Quick Hits: Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said on 590 The Fan that it's unlikely Nate Pearson (groin) will be ready for Opening Day and that Ross Stripling projects to fill the rotation vacancy … Jonathan Hernandez has been diagnosed with a low-grade UCL sprain in his right elbow and will be shut down for the next four weeks … Xander Bogaerts said during an appearance on WEEI on Tuesday that his right shoulder is “pretty close to 100 percent” … George Springer is day-to-day in Blue Jays camp due to abdominal tightness … Franmil Reyes returned to Indians camp on Tuesday after recently violating COVID-19 protocols … Trevor Rosenthal (groin) is expected to try getting back on a mound later this week … Kenta Maeda tossed three scoreless innings and fanned four Tuesday in his Grapefruit League start against the Orioles … Willie Calhoun is dealing with groin tightness in Rangers camp … Gary Sanchez hit his third homer of the spring Tuesday off the Tigers' Daniel NorrisMatt Chapman ripped a solo home run off of Craig Kimbrel Tuesday during Cactus League play … Pedro Baez has tested positive for COVID-19, per Astros general manager James ClickJoey Gallo continued to punish Cactus League pitching Tuesday, smashing his fifth home run of the spring in the Rangers' loss to the Indians … Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated Tuesday that Franchy Cordero (COVID-19) might not be ready for the season … Brendan McKay (shoulder) said Tuesday that he plans to begin throwing off a mound by the end of the month … Chris Davis will see a specialist for his sore back.