BALTIMORE -- Orioles closer Zach Britton -- sidelined with a left forearm injury -- will be shut down for two weeks and is looking at an early timeline of 45-60 days, a source told MLB.com. The club has not confirmed the news.
The cautious timeline is a major blow for a Baltimore club contending in the American League East, though the O's are optimistic Britton will return in the first half.
Britton, who received a second opinion on Monday in California with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, is currently at the club's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., and said a concrete timeframe didn't come up.
"The only hard time that ElAttrache gave me was saying, 'Let's take 10 days or so and not throw,' which would put me at 14 days [of rest]," Britton said in an exclusive phone interview with MLB.com. "At that point, if my forearm feels good and I have no symptoms, I can start a throwing program. Anything after that is based on how I feel. There's no hard timetable because it's kind of a unique injury."
Britton, who took a pair of MRIs in Baltimore, had an X-ray come back negative in the area as well. Structurally, his elbow is fine, which is good news. The strain is just the forearm muscle and the lefty, who also saw a hand specialist in California, is hoping for a much earlier return than 60 days.
"If I wasn't back by the 45-days [mark], I'd be shocked," Britton said. "It's not a huge strain. There are grades to strains, and it's closer to a weaker strain. A lot of it just depends on how fast I heal."
Given that Britton admitted he came back too soon, the team could be ultra-cautious this time around. Britton, who also had an oblique issue in the spring, was placed on the 10-day disabled list with the forearm injury for a second time on Saturday. He pitched just twice after being activated on May 2 -- both in Boston -- and woke up on Friday with some discomfort in the forearm area.
"Hopefully, if we take these 14 days in total and not throw and then ease into throwing, it gives it a chance to completely heal and be fine," Britton said. "It's kind of like a hamstring injury, they said. If you go too fast, you may reinjure it, which maybe is what I did off the DL. I think we have a really good plan this time."
A two-time All-Star, Britton has converted 54 consecutive saves -- tied for the AL record -- dating back to Oct. 1, 2015. Without him, the club has employed right-handers Brad Brach and Darren O'Day at the end of games and will continue to match up as manager Buck Showalter sees best.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Britton should be retained in virtually all leagues during his extended absence, as he could rank among the Major League leaders in saves during the second half of the season. Meanwhile, Brach should be a coveted asset in all leagues for the next 45-60 days. The right-hander has the skill set -- as evidenced by his 2.12 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 rate since the outset of '16 -- and the opportunity to post a substantial saves total during Britton's absence. In fact, Brach could own one of the highest saves tallies in the Majors by the time Britton returns.