It was obvious that the news was bad as Dustin Fowler collapsed onto the dirt along the right field line in Chicago. All of the ways this could end terribly flashed across every Yankee’s face as Fowler was lifted onto a cart without being able to put pressure on his leg.
The diagnosis is an open rupture of Fowler’s right patellar tendon. He’s undergoing surgery tonight at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. This is not how his big league debut was supposed to go.
Recovery time from this surgery is generally 6-9 months. The athlete can usually begin running against six months after surgery. That means there is a chance that Fowler could be ready for spring training if everything goes well for him in his rehab. It doesn’t make tonight feel any better.
The two most recent MLB players to tear their patellar tendons are Garrett Richards and Carlos Gonzalez back in 2014. Victor Cruz of the New York Giants also tore his patellar tendon the same year. Fowler’s injury is not a direct comparison to those, as his tendon is ruptured instead of merely torn, but it is a good starting point. It is a lengthy rehab process, like most knee injuries, but it’s not one that should have many long-term effects.
Fowler was the latest young Yankee who was finally getting a chance at realizing his dream as a big leaguer. This shouldn’t be the end for him by any means, but it’s horribly disappointing that this opportunity had to end this way. Fowler would have led off the inning right after his injury. Baseball can just be awfully cruel sometimes.
There has already been criticism of Fowler’s decision to try and make a risky play so early in the game. That criticism is unfounded. Fowler is a guy who plays all-out all the time, and he was trying to help his team in any way he could. Those criticisms are wrong when they are directed at Bryce Harper and they are wrong in this case too. It’s a freak accident that is extremely sad for all involved, but give the kid a break.
Freak injury as it may be, the more understandable criticism is that the Yankees were playing this game at all. Field conditions didn’t have anything to do with what happened, but there was really no need to try and play this game tonight after such a lengthy rain delay. It could have happened anywhere at any time, for sure, but it doesn’t make it easier to stomach it happening in this situation.
Hopefully Fowler’s recovery goes off without a hitch and he can come back for the debut he should have gotten tonight. His hard work earned him this opportunity, and surely it’ll get him back in a position to be here again.