Just last June now-Oakland Athletics prospect, Dustin Fowler, made his major league debut for the New York Yankees playing right field.
And it was not one to remember, although Fowler will as those of us that have seen the video of his season-ending injury on that very same late-June day.
A center fielder by trade, the speedy Fowler ran full force into the right field wall, his right knee slamming directly into an unpadded, metal electrical box. He was carried off the field by stretcher and taken to the hospital by ambulance, all before even getting his first big league at-bat.
Is he ready to have that at-bat yet? Fowler says he is currently at about 85 percent, giving him plenty of time to make up that last 15 percent which he says is,
“Just getting that last little strength back in the leg, last little girth. That’s that last little bit to get the speed back to where it was.”
Fowler expects to begin playing in Spring Training games with the team that begin on February 23rd at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, AZ. But can a player comeback that soon after having season-ending surgery due to a ruptured patella tendon? Especially a player who relies on speed in the outfield and on the base paths as keys to his success? It was a little unknown at first, whether or not Fowler would recover to start the 2018 season, given the injury is one more prone to football players than baseball players.
He underwent the surgery almost immediately but was still less than four weeks into the mandatory six weeks of being in a knee brace when he was traded from the Yankees to the Athletics as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Oakland’s ace Sonny Gray to New York.