BOSTON – Five months and two days after severely spraining his right knee in Sarasota, Fla. against the Red Sox, Wilson Betemit returned to the Orioles on Tuesday. The team activated him from the 60-day disabled list.
Betemit has been rehabilitating the knee in Sarasota and for the last 20 days has been playing for Gulf Coast, Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk.
“I feel good. I was down there playing and had some good at-bats,” Betemit said.
Betemit knows there is some skepticism about his readiness, but he’s says he’s ready.
“I’m able to run. That’s why I am here. If I was not able to go and run, I wouldn’t be here today,” Betemit said.
“I tell you what, my first game when I played in Sarasota I was thinking (about) my knee, I mean, what was going to happen in the first game. And then after that, it was good after that.”
Betemit is not in the lineup against the left-handed Felix Doubront, but will probably play on Wednesday against the right-handed John Lackey.
“It’s exciting to get Wilson back. It’s been a long road for him,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“It’s a long way from making that trek out between first and second in Sarasota. A lot of hard work by him and our staff to get him back. If you had told me when I was walking out there that Wilson would be joining us in August, I would have been real surprised, so good for him.”
Originally, it was diagnosed Betemit would miss six-eight weeks. That proved to be wildly optimistic. When the Orioles were at Tampa Bay in June, Betemit still had no timetable for his return.
“It was bad. I mean, it was bad because I was off for almost four months and then we were working in Sarasota with those guys,” Betemit said. “A thank you to those guys that were working with me in Sarasota. They did a great job with me over there.”
Betemit, who’s expected to be used as a designated hitter against right-handed pitching, said he always thought he’d come back this year.
“I was positive all year, positive that I could come back and I’m here,” Betemit said.
A lifetime .281 hitter against right-handed pitching, the switch-hitter batted .302 against right-handers last year. He hopes he’ll be able to run well. Betemit took ground balls at first and third base, but doesn’t expect to play there.
"I always took ground balls down in Sarasota, but I only played like two games at first base and third base. They called me and said they just want me to play DH."
Showalter discussed Betemit’s condition with Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and was satisfied with the answer.
“From all indications. He’s certainly had a long rehab and posted up every day. I talked to Ronnie about it today, and he said he’s ready to go,” Showalter said.
“He’s running pretty good now. It’s not so much that it hurts him. You can tell that…each day he’s played, he’s gotten a lot more confident about the leg. It’s not like we’re going to ask him to steal a base. There’s some unknown there. There’s not another place to send him and from all indications, he’s ready.”
“He could be a big help if he’s close to where he was last year. I like the fact that he’s had a lot of at-bats. It’s not like it was a two or three day rehab. It was quite a while. He’s gotten consistent at-bats.”
Betemit was wary running at first, but now he says he’s ready.
“My first time running was a scare. First I think, well, if you hit a double and have to turn at first base how am I going to feel? But I feel good,” Betemit said.
Perhaps the Orioles would have liked Betemit’s rehab to have started a few days later so he could have been activated after Sept. 1.
“I don't make the decisions. Whatever they want me to do, I do it. Now, I'm here to do the job, and every time they need me, I'll do the job," Betemit said.