SARASOTA, Fla. – It was an unusual sight. Buck Showalter left the dugout during the game. The manager, upset that Wilson Betemit’s right knee was potentially badly injured, went to the right field clubhouse to check on his designated hitter.
Betemit was taken for an MRI on the knee and diagnosed with a grade 2/3 posterior cruciate ligament tear with associated injuries. More information will be available on Tuesday.
With Manny Machado at bat, and Betemit at first with one out, he was running on the pitch. Machado popped to left field and Betemit was nearly at second. He collapsed and was on the ground for several moments.
“I saw him on the ground. I watched it,” Showalter said. “He’s pretty down right now. As we are.”
Betemit, who missed last year’s postseason with a right wrist injury, was supposed to serve as the Orioles’ designated hitter against right-handed pitchers. The switch-hitter will have to be replaced, but for now, Showalter doesn’t want to think about that.
“We will talk about that if we lose him. I’m going to think positive thoughts. Obviously, it doesn’t look good right now, but I’m concerned about Wilson the human being as opposed to what he does for our club,” Showalter said.
“Wilson is one of the better young men in the game. For him personally, I hope we get lucky. He’s a tough guy. For him to lay there you know he was in some pain.”
Earlier in the day, the Orioles optioned infielder/outfielder Russ Canzler to Triple-A Norfolk. He could be recalled to replace Betemit. Other candidates to replace Betemit are non-roster outfielders Chris Dickerson, Lew Ford, Conor Jackson and Steve Pearce.
That’s for later.
“Don’t want to lose the person as much as the player,” Showalter said. “I’ve got a heavy heart with Wilson, boy. That’s tough.”
Before Betemit’s shocking injury, the day’s storyline was T.J. McFarland’s first start. The Rule 5 draft choice, who is making life difficult in a good way for the Orioles, struggled through 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits to the Boston Red Sox.
The Orioles hit five home runs in their 12-9 win before 8,078 on Monday.
The offensive outburst didn’t make Showalter happy. He attributed it to heavy winds, and he gave McFarland a relative pass.
“Obviously, a tough day to pitch, and it’s not just the wind blowing,” Showalter said.
In his three previous outings, McFarland allowed just three hits in eight scoreless innings without walking a batter. Showalter will take all that into consideration before he decides whether to keep McFarland, who must stay on the roster all season or potentially be lost.
“It’s not just one outing with 30 mph wind blowing out. It’s not just one. It’s the whole thing, but it’s another piece of the little bit of the puzzle you’re able to look at,” Showalter said.
“We’d like to have him. We’ll see.”
McFarland was nervous when he found out the game was on ESPN.
“I have nerves every time I go out to throw. You usually can overcome them, they are good nerves. I am excited to pitch. But not any more or less than there usually is. I was able to calm myself before the game and just go out there like any other day,” McFarland said.
The left-hander struck out five and walked none.
“The results aren’t necessarily what I wanted to see but in the game I felt good,“ McFarland said.
If the Orioles keep McFarland, they’ll have to send Brian Matusz to Norfolk, trade Luis Ayala, Tommy Hunter or Troy Patton. No easy decisions there.
Adam Jones had his first two home runs of the spring. He had missed more than two weeks when playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. J.J. Hardy had three hits—two doubles—and a three-run home run. Matt Wieters had a home run as did Betemit.
Betemit hit a three-run home run and had a sacrifice fly before his untimely exit.
Pedro Strop perhaps Betemit’s best friend on the team, allowed three runs and four hits in the seventh inning.
”It took a lot of attention from us,” Strop said. “But I mean … by the time I was pitching in there, I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just trying to make my pitches and everything, but it stole everybody’s attention.”
NOTES: Showalter said that Nick Markakis would be the designated hitter on Tuesday when the Orioles travel to Fort Myers to play Minnesota. It will be Markakis’ first action since he was scratched with neck spasms on March 3. Matt Wieters will catch his only road game of the spring. Kevin Gausman will pitch against Liam Hendriks.