Former Yankees and Orioles reliever and southpaw Zach Britton retires told The Athletic.
Britton, 35, did not play last season and finished his 12-year career with the Yankees and Orioles in the American League East with a 3.13 ERA and 154 saves.
His last appearance was on September 30, 2022, against the Yankees, ironically against the Orioles.
Britton left the game early after a wild pitch.
The 2016 saves leader told the outlet he was retiring to spend more time with his family, including his four children and wife Courtney.
“My last game was against the Orioles. I threw the ball into the backstop as my last pitch. It sucks when you think about it,” Britton said. “It may not have been perfect from a career standpoint or from a staying on track standpoint, but you don’t always have a choice. My gut feeling is that it’s time to see what life is like on the other side. He told me that he was coming.”
Britton had a great career after switching from starting pitcher to relief pitcher, but fans will probably remember him most for the only game in which he didn’t pitch.
Britton, who posted a 0.54 ERA and an MLB-leading 47 saves in the 2016 season, did not play in the Orioles’ 5-2 11-inning loss to the Blue Jays in the wild-card game in Toronto. Ta.
Then-Orioles manager Buck Showalter used six other pitchers in relief ahead of Britton after Ubaldo Jimenez hit a walk-off three-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion.
“I don’t think Buck’s (managing career) should be defined by me not pitching in a game,” Britton said.
The Yankees acquired Britton two years later, and he posted a 2.75 ERA in five seasons while serving as setup man for Arold Chapman with the Bronx Bombers.
“Playing for the Yankees was special, and being able to bring my family to the All-Star Game was also really cool,” Britton said. “But when I look back on my career, I think the thing I’m most proud of is that offseason (2015) and how I got through that make-or-break period for me.”
His last great season came in the coronavirus-shortened 2020, when the 2006 third-round draft pick posted a 1.89 ERA in 20 games.
In the 2021 season, Britton posted a 5.89 ERA while battling injuries and underwent Tommy John surgery in September of the same year.
He said the lowest moment of his career was that season when he allowed a walk-off home run on the Field of Dreams against the White Sox.
“I remember breaking my iPad,” Britton told The Athletic. “My pitching wasn’t good. I knew I needed Tommy John, and you just want to step up for the team. Buck used to say, ‘Humans are the worst. ‘is not determined by the moment’, I thought about it the next day. Even if that was my worst moment in the big leagues, I still had a pretty good career. ”
Britton returned for three games in 2022, but struggled with command, walking six batters and recording only two outs.
He valued his time in pinstripes.
“When you put on that uniform and walk into the clubhouse, the history sticks with you,” Britton said of playing for the Yankees. “The whole experience as a Yankee is impressive. You’re playing for one of the most famous sports teams in the world. How they treat you and what you get – I love that experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wish we had won the World Series there. I wish I hadn’t gotten hurt like that. That was special.”
The left-hander practiced with the team during spring training and had a few offers, but he decided against it in discussions with his agent Scott Boras because “his heart wasn’t 100 percent.” He was convinced that he wanted to call it his career.
He finished his career as a two-time All-Star and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award and 11th in MVP voting in the 2016 season.
“Scott said, ‘You’ll never regret spending more time with your kids.’ And that really hit home,” Britton said. “Hearing it from me, I thought, ‘Wow, okay, maybe what I’m feeling is a good thing.’ I did everything I wanted to do in the game except win the World Series. I ended up playing with it a lot longer than I expected, and to be honest, it’s mostly luck.
“There are a lot of talented players who won’t be able to play for 12 years. I’m very grateful. To be honest, that journey was special. I was never good at being good at two things, but now is the time to do your best for your family.”