Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton suffered an ankle injury in the Orioles’ 8-7 loss Saturday to the Chicago White Sox, per

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Britton Nearing Return to Mound

Tuesday, May 3

Britton left after fielding a bunt by White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton:

On Sunday, he said the ankle had improved, but he remained in a walking boot, per

I think I’d be surprised if I had to go on the [disabled list]… It feels pretty good compared to yesterday, how it feels this morning, but it’s still some tenderness in there and obviously I’m not walking great. I think you’ve got to walk fine before I can even start pitching again. Hopefully, it’s just a few days and I can maybe throw a bullpen or something, or at least run on it and see how it feels.

It looks as though the left-hander will get his wish after’s Brittany Ghiroli reported the results of an MRI showed only inflammation in his injured ankle. Ghiroli added he’ll start playing catch Tuesday with the goal of returning within the week.

Britton had big shoes to fill when he assumed ninth-inning duties in 2014. Jim Johnson saved a combined 101 games between 2012 and 2013, leading the league in both seasons. Replicating that success would be hard enough for the most experienced reliever, let alone somebody who made two appearances out of an MLB bullpen to that point in his career.

The 28-year-old subsequently recorded 37 saves in 2014 and 36 a year ago. It might be a stretch to call Britton an elite closer, but he has brought stability and consistency to the Orioles bullpen:

Baltimore will need Britton to continue delivering in 2016 if it hopes to make the playoffs coming out of what should be an even better American League East.

Darren O’Day blew the save in Saturday’s game after replacing Britton, but he’ll likely handle any ninth-inning duties until Britton returns. O’Day has been an excellent setup man since arriving in Baltimore in 2012, and during that time, he has saved 12 games.

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