Dustin Fowler was slated to be the leadoff batter for the New York Yankees during his major-league debut Thursday night. But he never got the chance. He wasn’t even able to finish one inning in right field.
And now his season is over.
With two outs in the first against the Chicago White Sox, Fowler slammed into a short wall while chasing a foul ball hit by Jose Abreu. The 22-year-old rookie tried putting weight on his right leg twice but couldn’t. He ended up sitting on the warning track, waiting for help.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi covered his face as he stood next to the wounded rookie, who was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier in the day after first baseman Tyler Austin was put on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
“I was in tears because I know what it takes to get here, and how hard he’s worked,” Girardi said of Fowler. “And what’s supposed to be a really exciting day for him turns into a really bad day. I’m still in disbelief. It doesn’t seem fair that that’s what happened.”
According to the Yankees, Fowler had an open rupture of the patellar tendon in his right knee. While his teammates were being interviewed following a 4-3 loss to the White Sox, Fowler was in surgery at a Chicago hospital.
“It’s one of the worst things I’ve seen on a baseball field,” left fielder Brett Gardner said. “I can’t imagine a worse scenario for him. It’s heartbreaking.”
Aaron Judge, who normally plays right field but was serving as designated hitter that night, said of the injury: “I was sick to my stomach.”
According to Girardi, Fowler’s right knee struck an electrical box on the wall. The Yankees manager thinks the injury could have been prevented with a better stadium design.
“I’m not blaming the White Sox, but it’s something that should have been inspected. It needs to be padded or not put there or put lower,” Girardi said.