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Zack Britton makes 2021 debut for Yankees with scoreless inning

Yankees' Zack Britton throws during the sixth inning

Yankees' Zack Britton throws during the sixth inning in Game 5 of the baseball team's AL Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in San Diego. Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong

PHILADELPHIA — The numbers weren’t impressive, but pay no attention to that.

Zack Britton’s left elbow felt good enough during his recent rehab assignment that the Yankees activated him before Saturday afternoon's game. He pitched a perfect seventh inning against the Phillies, inducing a grounder and a pop-up before picking up a strikeout.

"No, not at this point," Britton said Saturday afternoon of feeling anything residual in the elbow. "I think that was one of the biggest hurdles was to be able to do what I normally do before a game and not need any additional work or things like that. Initially, in the rehab, maybe I needed a little bit more. That was a big hurdle for me to cross, just being able to be myself and be ready to throw when I'm needed."

Britton, who underwent surgery March 15 to remove a bone chip, posted a 12.46 ERA in five outings between Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Britton said his struggles in some of those outings — which included lasting only one-third of an inning June 8 against Buffalo, when he allowed four runs and three hits — were not a product of issues with his elbow.

"I think a lot of it, I started three of the five games and that's just, obviously, it's just not me anymore," said Britton, who began his MLB career as a starter. "Those times I started the game, I didn't feel great. Was all out of whack, felt rushed, just not mentally all the way in it. But when I got out of the bullpen, two of the outings, I felt great. So I just think getting back into more of a comfortable routine coming out of the pen was what I needed.

"A lot of that's on me, trying to be a veteran player and stay locked in. But it was tough for me when I was starting games. I felt like I started doing things I wouldn’t do."

From 2018-20, Britton had a 2.14 ERA in 111 appearances as a Yankee.

Ford DFA’d

Mike Ford, a favorite at one point of the Yankees’ analytics department who burst on the scene with a solid end to the 2019 regular season, was designated for assignment Saturday.

The lefty-hitting Ford, 28, hit .133 with three homers and a .561 OPS in 22 games before being optioned June 2.

Said Aaron Boone, "Look, 2020 was a little unique, obviously, so [he] just never kind of got on track and then lost some playing time and things like that, and had a hard time kicking in to get that consistent playing time to build off [2019]."

Ford, after debuting in 2019 and hitting .358 with seven homers and a 1.273 OPS in the final 20 games, hit .153 with a .496 OPS last season.

"And then this year, I think he just got into a little bit of a rut, especially when he got into some more regular playing time and started to get some regular at-bats, he was just scuffling a little bit," Boone said. "I still feel like he can hit, I still feel like he can hit at this level. Obviously, we had to make a tough decision."

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