Betances' season ends with 'freak' injury

September 18th, 2019

NEW YORK -- finally made his 2019 debut on Sunday in Toronto, returning from right shoulder and lat injuries to strike out both batters he faced. Two days later, his season ended.

After the Yankees’ 8-0 win over the Angels on Tuesday night, manager Aaron Boone announced the devastating news that Betances had suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon. He said the injury occurred as Betances was celebrating the second of those strikeouts, jumping off the mound in excitement and coming down awkwardly.

Though there weren’t any signs of an issue at the time, when Betances came into the clubhouse Tuesday, he felt sore and went through testing. That’s when the team discovered that he couldn’t make certain movements, such as standing on his tip-toe, so it sent him to see Dr. Justin Greisberg at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. While surgery is not being recommended at this time, it cannot be ruled out. Betances will be getting a second opinion from Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

“[We’re] heartbroken for Dellin, knowing he worked so hard to get back to this point to be a factor for us and to have him successfully debut for us the other day and now this,” Boone said. “I haven’t gotten to talk to him yet since the news -- I heard the news during the game -- but our heart goes out to him. Clearly, we’ve just gotta pick him up.

“It’s obviously frustrating and about as freak as it can be, but we’ll deal with it. We’ve dealt with a lot of things obviously this year and this is another one. We’ll support Dellin as best we can through this. He’s a big part of this still moving forward.”

The news cast a damper on the clubhouse, as word spread that Betances’ season would end as it had just begun. Starter Luis Severino, who threw four scoreless innings in his own long-awaited return from injury, took the announcement particularly hard given how much time the two pitchers had spent together during their respective rehabs.

“I'm just sad, man,” Severino said. “We've been working together since Spring Training. He's been working hard to get back here. He was so happy in Toronto when he pitched that game. It's hard. It's really hard to see a guy like that, that hustles and works, have something happen to him.”

Fellow reliever Zack Britton, who dealt with an Achilles injury that sidelined him for five months in 2018 when he was with the Orioles, talked to Betances both before and during the game, saying he felt “nauseous” when he found out what happened.

“The doctor told me it was just bad luck when I did mine, and I think it was similar for Dellin too, which is even worse,” Britton said. “He was so excited. He did so well that first game, so for it to happen on something so innocent like that, him being excited about a strikeout, is even more frustrating.”

Though Britton said his own injury was more dramatic because it occurred while he was running, causing a rupture that required surgery and sparked concerns over a possible career-ending injury, he is hopeful that there will be a shorter timetable for Betances’ recovery.

“‘You’re gonna be fine. You’re gonna be pitching again,’” Britton said of his advice to Betances. “It sucks right now, but he put in the work to get back, he’s gonna do it again and he’s gonna be fine. I told him that, if anything, it’s gonna give his body a chance to rest and he’s gonna be better than ever.”

While the loss of the four-time All-Star is a big blow to the morale of the Yanks, who have dealt with an unprecedented number of injuries this season, Boone is convinced that the bullpen is still in good hands.

“We’ve been one of the best teams in the sport all season, and I would say our bullpen has been one of the overwhelming strengths of this club, and that doesn’t change,” Boone said. “There’s no denying the impact that Dellin has -- he’s been one of the handful [of the] best relievers in the game for several years now. So we know how great he is and what a difference maker he is, but we certainly have the people there to continue to have our bullpen be a strength and we’ll just have to have Dellin’s support from the side like he’s been giving all year.”