CHICAGO — Joe Girardi believes Dustin Fowler’s season-ending injury in his MLB debut could’ve been avoided if the Yankees’ 22-year-old rookie hadn’t banged into an electrical box that sat just above the half wall along the right-field line at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I’ve seen what happens when you hit half walls,” Girardi said following the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the White Sox on Thursday night. “I know it’s how the stadium was designed, but I think it’s something baseball needs to address. Maybe you put up Plexiglass so they can’t flip over and people can look through it. They look through it in hockey.
“We saw it happen to Carlos Beltran (at Tropicana Field in 2014), and Carlos had three different MRIs because of it. You say you want players to play hard. But sometimes this is what happens if the field doesn’t protect the players.”
Fowler suffered an open rupture of the right patella tendon in his right knee, and immediately underwent surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago after hurting himself while trying to go after a foul ball. He will require at least six months of recovery.
“I was in tears, because I know what it takes to get here, and how hard he’s worked,” Girardi said. “And what’s supposed to be a really exciting day for him turns into a really bad day. I’m still in disbelief. It doesn’t seem fair that that’s what happened.”
Girardi said the team was still evaluating what to do in the outfield in light of the injury.
“I was sick to my stomach,” said Aaron Judge, the team’s everyday right fielder, who was DH’ing.
“He works his ass off, he’s a strong kid and he’s got a great head on his shoulders,” Brett Gardner said. “He’s a damn good player and he continues to improve and I was looking forward to get a chance to play with him and just help him out along the way. Obviously that’s not going to happen this season, so it’s pretty frustrating.”
The injuries continue to pile up for the Yankees, who have lost 14 of 16. Greg Bird, CC Sabathia, Adam Warren, Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday and Tyler Austin are all currently on the DL. Warren and Sabathia appear to be the closest to return.
“It’s frustrating. It’s 1:30 a.m. (CT) and we’ll get to the hotel in Houston around 6 a.m. and we’ve got another game against a really good team,” Gardner said. “But baseball is a game that doesn’t sit around and wait on anybody. You have to deal with injuries over the course of the season. We just have to fight through it, and it will only make us stronger in the end.”