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USATSI

New York Yankees reliever Zack Britton will likely miss the start of the 2021 MLB season because of an elbow issue. Britton, who underwent an MRI on Monday, first experienced the sensation after a weekend bullpen session. The Yankees announced Tuesday that Britton is expected to return to New York on Wednesday to have arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his left elbow. 

The team has said there's no known timetable for his return. With Opening Day just over three weeks away, it seems very likely he opens the season on the injured list. 

Britton hadn't yet made an appearance this spring, as he's instead had to make up for time lost during the offseason. Britton endured a bout with COVID-19 in January that set him back. 

Britton, 33, is entering his third full season with the Yankees, having first joined the organization in July 2018 trade. In 111 appearances in pinstripes, Britton has accumulated a 2.14 ERA (206 ERA+) and a 1.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Last season, he even saved eight games, pushing his career total to 153.

As long as Britton is out, the Yankees will likely lean on a pair of offseason additions to fill the late-inning void. They signed fellow lefty Justin Wilson and right-hander Darren O'Day to give them additional depth. Boone could also turn to a youngster like Jonathan Loaisiga to help out in the seventh inning.

The Yankees led Major League Baseball in days lost to injury in 2019. A subsequent overhaul of the team's strength and conditioning staff may or may not have helped the Yankees improve in that regard, as they finished middle of the pack in days lost in 2020. The Yankees are banking on their ability to keep players healthy, having acquired Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon over the winter as a means of improving their rotation.