Bethancourt suffered the injury in the fourth inning after hitting a chopper to third. He appeared to have trouble getting up the first-base line and was removed shortly thereafter.
Over the past couple of weeks, Bethancourt beagn to emerge as the Padres' primary catcher with Derek Norris struggling. Now, Bethancourt is hopeful he'll only miss the minimum of 15 days on the DL, but it's too soon to tell the extent of the injury. The early returns weren't exactly promising.
"Actually, I was hoping to feel a little better, but it didn't go that well," said Bethancourt, who is hitting .228/.265/.368 in 73 games this season. "I had some trouble when I was sleeping last night. Trying to move and turn over was pretty painful. … I've heard a lot of players get that and go through that. I didn't know it was that painful."
The Padres had the option of calling up Austin Hedges, who is presumed to be their catcher of the future. Hedges is hitting .322/.351/.595 for El Paso with 20 homers, and he was named to the all-Pacific Coast League team earlier this week.
But the team has spoken repeatedly about getting its top youngsters the experience of playing in the PCL playoffs, which begin next week. Plus, if Hedges remains at Triple-A until Sept. 15, his free agency would be pushed back a year from 2021 to '22.
As for Bethancourt, he had plans to play winter ball - though he hadn't yet finalized where. (He spent last offseason playing in Panama.) If he's fully recovered, it's likely he'd play primarily outfield and DH, as the Padres are looking to get him more experience at the two corner outfield spots.
Of course, that's a long way off, with Bethancourt's primary focus on returning to the 2016 Padres.
"Right now I'm just working on trying to get my movement back," Bethancourt said. " [I'm] working on trying to get the inflammation down, get some strength, be able to twist my upper side of the rib cage. Hopefully it doesn't take more than a couple weeks."