HOUSTON — Dustin Fowler was expected to leave the hospital on Friday, a day after undergoing surgery for a serious knee injury he suffered crashing into a low wall trying to catch a foul ball for the New York Yankees in his major league debut.
The outfielder ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee in the first inning of New York's 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night. He tried to walk after running into a metal box in the short sidewall near the corner attempting to make the catch before crumbling to the ground.
He was then taken to Rush University Medical centre where the surgery was performed.
Manager Joe Girardi said he spoke to him Friday morning and then the entire team crowded into the training room in the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park where the Yankees were set to play the Astros to Face Time the injured rookie on Friday afternoon.
"As a group we just talked to him," Girardi said. "He's getting out of the hospital and we expect to see him in New York when we get back from this trip. I thought it was important that we see him and that he saw us."
Girardi said that he was in good spirits and feeling pretty good. However the manager was still sick about what he believes was an injury that could have been avoided had the entire wall been padded.
"Still very ... upset about it, sad for him," Girardi said. "His parents were flying here today and they basically scratched their flight and got in the car at 1:30 last night and drove up to see him.
"All the excitement of your son being called up and then the disappointment that they're obviously going through, but they're there for him, which I think is really important. He'll get through this."
A spokesman for the MLB players' association said in an email to The Associated Press that: "we are gathering information and anticipate discussing this with Major League Baseball," when asked about the Yankees saying a lack of padding caused Fowler's injury.
The White Sox said they weren't planning any changes to the area where Fowler was injured. Other ballparks have short walls, and the boxes in question — which are for wifi — were installed throughout the ballpark a few years ago by Major League Baseball.
Two side-by-side boxes are attached to the inside of the railing atop a padded concrete wall. They do not stick out toward the field.
Team spokesman Scott Reifert said the White Sox lowered parts of the sidewall when they added seats around the early 2000s.
"The reason we did it years ago was for intimacy for fans," he said. "If you remember when the ballpark was first built the wall was much higher and we added rows of seats and brought it down. It was basically for intimacy for fans to be closer to the game."
White Sox manager Rick Renteria said there's nothing particularly unusual or dangerous about that area of the ballpark. Renteria said Chicago players and coaches were hoping Fowler would slow down or slide as he chased the ball "with tremendous vigour."
"We feel bad for him, we sincerely do," he said. "It could have been a combination of the velocity at which he was carrying himself to reach that ball and the unfamiliarity of the surroundings."
Fowler's season-ending injury came before he could take his first major league plate appearance, which was to take place to start the second inning. The injury is expected to require about six months of rehabilitation.
A day after it happened, Girardi was asked if he could believe what happened.
"Yeah when I saw him get up and fall down and then I saw the lump in his pants ... what happened was his patellar tendon ruptured and his kneecap slid up," he said. "So I'm not used to seeing (something like that). It just looked weird to me."
Girardi said Fowler had already been up walking around and doing a few things on Friday.
"The rehab's already started," he said.
The Yankees were also without right-hander Tyler Clippard on Friday as he attended his grandmother's funeral. Girardi said they expected him back on Saturday.
Also on Friday, New York recalled infielder Miguel Andujar and right hander Bryan Mitchell from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned right-hander Ronald Herrera to Scranton.
AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago and AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this story.
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