New York Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler had season-ending surgery on his right knee Thursday night following a crash into a wall in the first inning of his major league debut.
The 22-year-old Fowler started in right field in New York's 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox. He slammed into the short sidewall near the corner trying to catch Jose Abreu's foul ball with one out. Fowler calmly tried to stand and walk after hitting the wall, but his right leg buckled twice before he sat down on the warning track and waited for help.
Fowler had an open rupture of the patellar tendon in his right knee, the Yankees said, and had surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Fowler was set to lead off the second inning for his first big league plate appearance.
"When you rupture a patellar tendon, you're looking at at least six months," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's was really down and probably scared.
"He's been a pretty healthy player and he plays really hard."
The training staff attended to Fowler with Girardi and distraught teammates looking on. After speaking briefly with Fowler, a dismayed Girardi leaned back and put both hands on his face, then called for a cart.
"It's one of the worst things I've seen on a baseball field," left fielder Brett Gardner said. "I just can't imagine a worse scenario for him.
"It's heartbreaking. He's a good kid and a really, really good player with a bright future."
The rookie had his leg stabilized, was lifted onto a cart and taken off the field. He was replaced by Rob Refsnyder.
Fowler's injury followed a 2-hour, 50-minute rain delay.
Fowler was called up Thursday after the Yankees put first baseman Tyler Austin on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Fowler hit .293 with 13 homers at 43 RBIs at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was selected to play in the International League All-Star Game.
With Fowler out, the Yankees may once again have to dip into the minor league system for help.
Miguel Andujar, another 22-year-old, made his big league debut Wednesday and had three hits and four RBIs as the designated hitter in a 12-3 win. Andujar was optioned Thursday to Scranton so he can play third base regularly, according to Girardi.
"He had a great day and it's hard to send him down" Girardi said. "We look at him as an everyday third baseman in the future."
Austin, brought up Saturday to replace Chris Carter, was put on the 10-day disabled list with what Girardi called a high grade right hamstring strain.
"He's going to be out awhile," Girardi said.
Carter, designated for assignment and assigned outright Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was brought back to the big league roster and listed as a bench player. The first baseman hit 41 homers last season for Milwaukee but just eight in 57 games with New York while batting .204 with 70 strikeouts.
CC Sabathia threw a bullpen session and said he is ready to be activated. Girardi wants to wait a couple of days to see how the 6-foot-6 left-hander feels before projecting his return to the rotation.
New York also transferred Greg Bird to the 60-day disabled list and designated outfielder Mason Williams for assignment. Bird went on the DL on May 2.
The Yankees have lost 12 of their last 16 games and fallen a game behind first place Boston in the AL East.