The Yankees’ Dustin Fowler had a lot of feelings after suffering a season-ending injury in his major league debut, but wanting something to blame wasn’t one of them.
The 22-year-old outfielder spoke with reporters at Yankee Stadium before Wednesday’s game for his first news conference since having surgery to repair the patella tendon he ruptured during a collision with a metal box along the right foul line in Chicago.
He had a large brace holding his leg in place and used crutches.
“I can’t say that I wouldn’t have been hurt if I didn’t hit it,” Fowler said. “I could’ve easily torn an ACL if I didn’t hit it with the padding, but it’s easy to blame something like that. But right now, I think it’s unfortunate because it’s something that was going to happen I think.”
Playing his first inning in the major leagues, the 6-foot, 195-pound Fowler chased down a foul ball hit by the White Sox’s Jose Abreu last Thursday. He bounded into the padded metal box along a short wall and came up hobbled.
“Tough to swallow, but when I was sitting on the field it felt like it was eternity,” Fowler said. “The only thing I could think of was not being able to believe what happened, happened.”
After the injury, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters that he thought something had to be done about short walls and the electrical boxes at Guaranteed Rate Field in particular.
“To me, it’s something that needs to be corrected — shortened walls,” he said at the time.
Fowler, drafted in the 18th round in 2013 by the Yankees, hit .293 with 13 home runs, 49 runs and 43 RBIs in 70 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He never got the chance to hit in Chicago. Instead, he’ll spend four to six months rehabbing and said he should be prepared for spring training.
“I’m just trying to get mobility back,” Fowler said. “Trying to get as much flexibility as I can in my knee, trying to get my strength back in my quad, in my knee. Then I’ll start running, and from then on start working my way up.”
Fowler credited his teammates for giving him support despite having spent little time with the club, and given the opportunity to redo the play, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“I don’t really regret anything,” Fowler said. “I think I would give the same effort if I did it all over again.”