SARASOTA, Fla. -- It was a rare sight to see Buck Showalter leaving the dugout during Monday's game, but it was a testament to the character of Wilson Betemit, who was carted off the field in the bottom of the fifth inning with a right knee injury that put a dark cloud over the Orioles' 12-9 win over the Red Sox.
"Wilson is one of the better young men in the game," Showalter said of Betemit, who was initially diagnosed with a right knee ligament sprain, but an MRI revealed he had suffered a Grade 2/3 posterior cruciate ligament tear with associated injuries. "He's a tough guy. For him to lay there, you know he was in some pain."
Betemit, who had four RBIs, drew a walk, then crumpled to the ground on his way to second base, writhing in pain as he was doubled up halfway down the basepath on Manny Machado's fly ball to short left field. After being examined by the team's athletic trainers, he was carted off the field and later helped into the clubhouse with a protective brace already on his knee.
"I've got a heavy heart with Wilson, boy. That's tough," Showalter said before knowing the MRI results. "It really sucked the energy out of the dugout. I didn't even feel like coming back out on the field. I was hoping it was his hamstring. I'm hoping if it's the PCL, you've got a different dynamic, if it's not the ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]. You can rehab and there's no surgery. I'm hoping for even better than that. I don't think I'm going to get it, but I'm hoping it's the PCL."
Betemit hadn't suffered an injury to his right knee before Monday and he worked hard this offseason -- forgoing winter ball -- to keep his body in shape and arrive this spring strong and ready to go.
"The whole time [after the injury], I was there and we were talking about it," said reliever Pedro Strop, a close friend of Betemit's who took the mound in the seventh. "I was just trying to make my pitches and everything. But it stole everybody's attention, everybody was talking about it. I mean, hopefully everything is all right. It's tough to see one of your teammates [get hurt] and even more when you know how hard he worked for the 2013 season."
Betemit, who entered the game hitting .194, had a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly to give him eight Grapefruit League RBIs. Betemit's injury likely solidifies a spot for Ryan Flaherty -- who was already competing for a bench spot -- to give the Orioles another left-handed hitter option. That in turn potentially opens a spot for another outfielder/first baseman to make the club as a reserve. Possible candidates in camp include Steve Pearce, Conor Jackson, Lew Ford and Chris Dickerson.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less