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Prospect Fowler: Recovery going smoothly

Young OF injured in MLB debut, expects to be ready for Spring Training
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- Walking with crutches, Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler said that the early stages of his recovery are going smoothly following surgery on his right patellar tendon, which he injured chasing a foul pop during the first inning of his Major League debut.

Fowler has been told to anticipate a rehabilitation process of four to six months, and the rookie expects to be ready for Spring Training. Playing right field, Fowler was carted off the field after running into a short fence and metal box last Thursday against the White Sox in Chicago.

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NEW YORK -- Walking with crutches, Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler said that the early stages of his recovery are going smoothly following surgery on his right patellar tendon, which he injured chasing a foul pop during the first inning of his Major League debut.

Fowler has been told to anticipate a rehabilitation process of four to six months, and the rookie expects to be ready for Spring Training. Playing right field, Fowler was carted off the field after running into a short fence and metal box last Thursday against the White Sox in Chicago.

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"I saw the wall. It got to me a little quicker than I wanted it to," said Fowler, the Yankees' No. 8 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. "I'm always a guy that's going to try and do everything I can to make the play. I got to it too aggressively. I don't really regret anything. I think I would give the same effort if I did it all over again."

Tweet from @BryanHoch: Dustin Fowler is back with the #Yankees, believes he should be ready for Spring Training: pic.twitter.com/Myeim8nVes

Fowler sustained an open rupture and went directly into surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, where White Sox team physician Dr. Charles A. Bush-Joseph performed the procedure. Fowler said that he felt no pain while he was on the field, likely because of adrenaline.

Video: NYY@CWS: Fowler carted off the field after injury

"I couldn't believe what was going on," Fowler said. "I work my tail off all this time, finally got there, and the first 15 minutes I was on the field, I hit the wall. I stumbled a little bit, and when I finally hit the ground, I could see that something was wrong. It was tough to swallow, but when I was sitting on the field, it felt like an eternity."

The 22-year-old Fowler was batting .293/.329/.542 in 70 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with 19 doubles, eight triples, 13 homers and 43 RBIs, stealing 13 bases in 18 attempts.

"I could have easily torn an ACL if I didn't hit [the metal box]," Fowler said. "It's easy to blame something like that, but right now I think it's just unfortunate."

Prior to a game in Houston, manager Joe Girardi organized a brief team meeting in which the entire roster engaged in a video chat with Fowler from his hospital bed.

"It means a lot, knowing the guys care about me," Fowler said. "I haven't been on the team a long time, but just knowing they have my back and they're praying for me -- in a time like that, you need as many people on your side as you can."

Fowler's spot in the lineup was due up at the top of the second inning, an at-bat which went instead to Rob Refsnyder. Fowler is vowing not to become another "Moonlight" Graham, who famously played one inning in the field but did not bat on June 29, 1905, for the New York Giants -- eerily, 112 years to the day of Fowler's debut.

"The adrenaline was obviously there. I was anxious," Fowler said. "I thought I was going to get up the inning prior. Definitely going on defense, you want a quick inning so you can get to your at-bat. Unfortunately I wasn't and had a long process to get going, but hopefully I'll be there soon and actually be able to get that first at-bat."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

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