TAMPA — Zack Britton’s wife made him tear up his contract with the Yankees.
The lefty reliever’s spouse is an attorney, and when she looked over the deal he’d just signed with the Bombers, she saw the problem. It was a three-year, $39 million deal for ZaCH Britton, the name the pitcher was known by throughout his first eight years in the big leagues… but not his legal name, Zack.
“I was born Zack, with a ‘ck,’ but I didn’t know until I went to get a passport it was really with a ‘ck.’ My parents had told me it was with a ‘ch,’,” Britton said Monday after working out at the Yankees minor league complex for the first time this year. “I am blaming my parents.
“The Orioles always just put the “ck” on any legal documents and I went by ‘ch,’ with everything else.”
Britton had to have the Yankees rewrite the contract to reflect his legal name and decided to shed the stage name “Zach.”
“The Yankees felt it would just be better for everybody if I just kept it with a ‘K,’,” said Britton, who admitted he was amused by how that went viral on social media. “It just kind of took off.”
It is the perfect time for Britton to turn the page.
A year ago, Britton was just learning to walk again after blowing out his right Achilles, requiring surgery. It was a long road back and frustrating short season with him not returning to the big leagues with the Orioles until June 12. He was traded after just 16 appearances with Baltimore and was still trying to rediscover his form when he arrived in the Bronx following a trade in late July.
But this spring, Britton said, feels like “a regular spring training.”
“It’s normal, I threw a bullpen today, I threw a bunch already… I ran a mile, it’s first time I ran a mile since I had surgery,” Britton said.
The 31-year old Britton changed things up a little this past offseason to get to this point.
“When we got eliminated (in the American League Division Series last year), I took a day off and then started working out and started throwing a few weeks earlier than I normally would,” Britton said. “I threw a lot more bullpens than I ever would coming into spring training. I wanted to get rid of some bad habits I learned over last year and get ready for wherever I was going to go play.
“I am excited to be here and ready to go.”
It’s an exciting bullpen that Britton is returning to.
With the addition of Adam Ottavino to a group that already included Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and Chad Greene, it’s a bullpen heavy on high-leverage experience.
“It looks really good on paper. The track records are good, we’ve gotta go out and do it,” Britton said. “The best thing about the bullpen is you’ve got a lot of weapons, so if a guy is in a little rut, you’ve got four, five or six guys down there that can pick him up. I think that’s the biggest thing. …With guys who have closing experience, or at least high-leverage experience, I think it only bodes well for you over the course 162 games.”
Despite his 142 career saves, Britton made it clear he does not care where the Yankees use him. He made the decision to sign with a team he felt gave him a chance to win a World Series over teams that would guarantee him a closer role.
“I don’t think we will until season starts or we may not,” Britton said of talking with manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Larry Rothschild about where he will be used. “It’s not a big deal. I knew if I wanted to close there were a handful of teams I could have chose to close for. So when I came back I told Cashman it’s not a conversation we really need to have. If he wants me to close games, I’ll close games. If he wants to me to throw the seventh, I’ll throw the seventh.
“This is what I signed up for.”