MINNEAPOLIS -- The most injury-battered team in Major League history almost made it through the American League Division Series without an on-field appearance from their head athletic trainer.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Zack Britton's sore right ankle does not appear to be a significant concern heading into the AL Championship Series. Neither does the left hand of Aroldis Chapman, though the closer was sporting a bulky ice wrap while the team celebrated its series-clinching 5-1 win over the Twins in Game 3 of the ALDS at Target Field on Monday night.
Britton, who will be on the ALCS roster, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Wednesday, exited in the eighth inning after jamming his ankle while covering first base an inning earlier. Meanwhile, Chapman told the New York Post that he was hit by an errant bottle in the first few minutes of the clubhouse celebration.
"I saw him walk by," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He gave me a fist bump with that wrap on his wrist. I'm like, 'What's that?' But they were all going out on the field [to take a team photo] and he had a huge smile on his face. I had no idea what that was, but I fist-bumped it."
After pitching a scoreless seventh, Britton gave up a leadoff homer to Eddie Rosario and induced a first-pitch groundout against Mitch Garver. Yankees manager Aaron Boone and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue then briefly met with Britton on the mound before Chapman was summoned for a five-out save, his first of the postseason.
"[Britton] came in and kind of got stretched out and felt good enough to go back out," Boone said. "He was just a little tender, a little kind of gingerly in really finishing his pitches. We just felt like we needed to get him out of there. Chappy was up and ready to go. It was probably a bit earlier than we wanted, but obviously, Chappy was able to finish it off."
Coming off a regular season in which he had to place a Major League-record 30 players on the injured list (39 stints), Cashman said that he believes the lefty will appear on the club’s ALCS roster.
“I talked to Zack and our trainer; both of them gave me not even a yellow flag, but more of a green light,” Cashman said. “I'll put my head on a pillow tonight thinking Zack is fine.”
Britton has enjoyed a mostly healthy season in 2019, other than a cramping issue in his right calf during August. It was a bounce-back year for the two-time All-Star reliever, who missed significant time in ’18 after rupturing his right Achilles tendon while running during a workout the previous offseason when he was with the Orioles.
Britton compiled a 1.91 ERA over 66 outings during the regular season, his lowest since his 0.54 mark in ’16, when he led the AL with 47 saves.
“I’ll be all right. We just decided this game was too important for me to keep going out there when I wasn’t 100 percent," Britton said. “I think a lot of it is being cautious about what I was coming off last year with the Achilles surgery. I felt like, in that situation, the game was too important to be out there thinking about something other than pitching."