New York Yankees reliever Zack Britton returns to mound in minors after 11-month absence because of Tommy John surgery

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- New York Yankees reliever Zack Britton returned to the mound after an 11-month absence, facing two batters for the Class A Tampa Tarpons on Wednesday night in his first appearance since Tommy John surgery.

The 34-year-old left-hander started the game against the Clearwater Threshers. He retired Cade Fergus on a grounder to the pitcher and threw a called third strike past Matt Alifano.

An All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles in 2015 and 2016, Britton hopes to return to the Yankees for the stretch run.

He made his last big league appearance on Aug. 19 last year at Minnesota. Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache operated on Sept. 8 to reconstruct the UCL in his left elbow and remove a bone chip.

Britton was 0-1 with a 5.89 ERA in 22 games last season before the injury. He has 154 saves in 11 major league seasons with Baltimore (2011-18) and the Yankees (2018-21).

He has a $14 million salary this season and can become a free agent after the World Series.