TAMPA — Most players show up to spring training with a new pitch or a new approach at the plate.
Zack Britton showed up to his first spring training as a Yankee on Monday with a new name.
The left-hander announced on Twitter last week he was reverting back to the spelling of his name to what was on his birth certificate — and what he’s always been legally — Zack, as opposed to what he referred to as his “stage name,” Zach, as a major leaguer.
He first discovered the issue when he got a passport and said with a laugh, “I blame my parents.”
The slight alteration got quite a bit of attention after Britton’s “breaking news,” which took him by surprise.
The change was spurred by the contract Britton signed with the Yankees this offseason. His previous contracts with Baltimore said “Zack,” but the Yankees paperwork initially said “Zach.” His wife, an attorney, advised him to let the Yankees know.
“She said, ‘Legally we need to have them change it. That’s not your name,’” Britton said his wife told him. “I called the Yankees and they were like, ‘Why were you going with an ‘h?’”
If the left-hander lives up to expectations in what figures to be another lights-out Yankees bullpen, no one will care how Britton spells his name.
Monday was his first day at the team’s minor league complex, but Britton — who was coming back from Achilles surgery at this point a year ago — began working out almost immediately after the Yankees were eliminated by the Red Sox in the ALDS.
“I went home, took a day off and started working out the next day and I started throwing a few weeks earlier than I normally do,” said Britton, adding he ran a mile Monday for the first time since the surgery just over a year ago.
“I’ve thrown a lot more bullpen [sessions] than I ever would have coming into spring,” Britton said. “I just wanted to get rid of some bad habits I learned over the course of last year and get ready to go for wherever I was gonna play.”
Now that he knows it’s in The Bronx, Britton insisted he’s fine with any way Aaron Boone wants to use him, even though he passed up the chance to close elsewhere.
“I told [GM Brian] Cashman that’s not a conversation we really need to have,” Britton said. “If they want me to close games, I’ll close games. If they want me to throw the seventh, I’ll throw the seventh.”
Britton joins Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder and fellow free agent Adam Ottavino in the pen.
“It looks really good on paper, and the track records are really good,” Britton said. “You’ve got to go out there and do it.”