TAMPA, Fla. -- As Zack Britton signed autographs for fans outside the Yankees' Minor League complex on Monday afternoon, the left-hander promised he was doing so with a "K" to close his forename. He always has, despite eight years of baseball cards that claimed it ended with an "H."How did
TAMPA, Fla. -- As Zack Britton signed autographs for fans outside the Yankees' Minor League complex on Monday afternoon, the left-hander promised he was doing so with a "K" to close his forename. He always has, despite eight years of baseball cards that claimed it ended with an "H."
How did this happen, and why did Zackary Grant Britton choose this moment to inform the world about the discrepancy? Britton said it stemmed from the fine print of his new three-year, $39 million contract, which arrived from Yankee Stadium referring to "Zach."
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"My wife [Courtney] is an attorney, and she's like, 'Legally, we need to have them change it,'" Britton said. "I'm like, 'Ugh, I don't want to go through this process again.' So I called my agent and said they need to change my name, my legal name is with a 'K.' Just like a minor thing. Then I talked to the Yankees and they were like, 'Why were you going with an H?'"
It is a fair question. Britton said after he was drafted by the Orioles in 2006, the organization knew his name ended with a "K," since they referred to him that way on all legal documents. Britton's passport, for example, has featured the "K" for years.
But for some reason, he was listed as "Zach" on Baltimore's rosters, and Britton said he opted not to complain.
"The Orioles always put 'K' on any legal documents, and then they left it with an 'H,'" Britton said. "It was a stage name. The Yankees just felt like it was better for everybody if I just kept it with a 'K.' I was like, 'Yeah, why not? Something new.'"
Britton said he was amused by the social media stir that followed his name change, but he is more excited by how he feels coming into camp.
A year ago, Britton was learning to walk again after undergoing right Achilles surgery, but he has already thrown several bullpen sessions this spring and said he ran his first post-surgery mile on Monday.
"When we got eliminated, I went home and took a day off, and I started working out," Britton said. "I started throwing a few weeks earlier than I normally would, and I've thrown a lot more bullpens than I ever would coming into Spring Training. I'm just excited to get going and be a healthy guy in camp."
Aaron Judge headlined the group of early-arriving stars in Tampa on Monday, a week ahead of the Feb. 18 report date for Yankees position players. Judge took several rounds of batting practice, slugging an opposite-field homer, and saw action in the outfield.
Gary Sánchez participated in Judge's group, taking on-field batting practice for the first time following his left shoulder surgery.
With manager Aaron Boone and third-base coach Phil Nevin looking on, other early arrivals included Miguel Andújar, Greg Bird, Estevan Florial, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit. Left-hander James Paxton also worked out on Monday.
Didi Gregorius is not expected to play in a big league game until at least June, but the shortstop is working hard in the Florida sun. He took grounders and made 25 tosses at a distance of 60 feet on Monday.
"It's still a waiting game for me, so I'm getting there," Gregorius said. "[It felt] pretty good."
Gregorius worked out alongside Troy Tulowitzki, who is expected to fill in at shortstop until Gregorius returns from the injury list.
"He looked pretty good," Gregorius said. "I've played against the guy for a while, so I know what he's capable of."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.