With a week to go a relatively healthy spring training, the Orioles appeared to have suffered their most serious injury of the Grapefruit League Monday as veteran Wilson Betemit was carted off the field with a sprained PCL in his right knee.
Running between first and second base with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Betemit appeared to pull up lame before hyperextending his right knee and crumpling to the ground in pain. The 31-year-old was on the ground for several minutes before being taken off the field on a cart.
According to reports from Sarasota on Tuesday morning, Betemit hopes to miss only six to eight weeks as surgery is not being considered at this point in time. However, that remains an optimistic outlook as he’ll be reevaluated at that point in time before determining whether he’s able to return to the diamond. According to injury analyst Will Carroll, there is a strong possibility that Betemit will still require surgery if rehabbing the knee proves unsuccessful.
Entering Monday’s game hitting .194 (7-for-36) this spring, Betemit hit a home run and had plated four runs before leaving Monday’s 12-9 win over the Boston Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium. The switch-hitting Betemit feasted on right-handed pitching in his first season with the Orioles last year, hitting .302 and posting an .859 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). He entered spring training as the consensus favorite to be the club’s designated hitter against right-handers and brings versatility with his ability to play the corner infield spots as well as the outfield in a pinch.
Saying he had a “heavy heart” for the injured veteran, manager Buck Showalter informed reporters in Sarasota that Betemit would undergo an MRI on Monday evening and would be reevaluated on Tuesday.
With Betemit expected to miss an extended period of time, it not only opens the door for the versatile Ryan Flaherty to all but clinch a spot on the 25-man roster but increases the chances of a veteran bat such as Steve Pearce or Lew Ford to make the club.