Showalter: “I’ve got a heavy heart with Wilson”

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter walked off the field during the late innings of today’s game against the Boston Red Sox, heading straight to the trainers room to console Wilson Betemit.

Betemit was carted off the field with an injury to his right knee that’s been diagnosed initially as a sprained ligament. He’s undergoing an MRI this afternoon and the team hopes to have the results later tonight.

“I’ve got a heavy heart with Wilson, boy. That’s tough,” Showalter said following the Orioles’ 12-9 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

“It really sucked the energy out of the dugout. I didn’t even feel like coming back out on the field. I was hoping it was his hamstring. I’m hoping if it’s the PCL, you’ve got a different dynamic, if it’s not the ACL. You can rehab and there’s no surgery. I’m hoping for even better than that. I don’t think I’m going to get it, but I’m hoping it’s the PCL.”

Reliever Pedro Strop, one of Betemit’s closest friends on the team, allowed three runs and four hits after watching his teammate leave the field.

“I think Pete was a little out of sorts. He and Wilson are pretty close,” Showalter said.

Betemit collapsed in the dirt near second base on a Manny Machado fly ball to left field with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Betemit tried to stop and retreat to first when the knee apparently buckled. He was in a tremendous amount of pain as Showalter and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells raced out of the dugout.

“I saw him on the ground, I watched it,” Showalter said. “I came up here, I don’t know what inning it was, seventh or whatever, spent a little time with him. He’s pretty down right now, as we are.

“Wilson is one of the better young men in the game. For him personally, I hope we get lucky. He’s a tough guy. For him to lay there, you know he was in some pain.”

Showalter didn’t want to speculate on how the club would replace Betemit.

“We’ll talk about that if we lose him,” Showalter said. “I’m going to think positive thoughts. Obviously, it doesn’t look good right now, but I’m concerned about Wilson the human being as opposed to what he does for our club. That’s where everybody is, see where he is physically. What he does for our club kind of pales in comparison. Don’t want to lose the person as much as the player.”

Showalter tried to turn his focus to today’s starting pitcher, T.J. McFarland.

“Obviously, a tough day to pitch, and it’s not just the wind blowing,” he said. “You see all the pitchers and balance is really a challenge. That’s one of the reasons I pushed so hard for as many night games as we can get in, because it’s one of the few times you really play baseball games. It’s tough. It’s tough for the players. It shouldn’t be tough for evaluation if you really take it into consideration. That’s why spring is one of the great foolers. It’s why I lean so much on track records and I don’t look at stats here.

“It’s not just one outing with 30 mph wind blowing out. It’s not just one. It’s the whole thing, but it’s another piece of the little bit of the puzzle you’re able to look at. You look at a lot more than just today, and then you have to look at how you do it. That’s why (Rule 5 picks) are hard to take. A little different with position players.

“We’d like to have him. We’ll see. We feel as strong if not stronger than we did about him when we took him.”

McFarland’s athleticism has impressed the Orioles all spring.

“A good example is the backhand play he made,” Showalter said. “I’ve said before he’s a baseball player who happens to be a pitcher. Most left-handed pitchers don’t get off the mound and make that play. Their back is to the runner and they don’t have a feel for the speed of the ball. It’s not a double play ball, backhand short-hop play, and he turns and makes the play. There are some things that some of our guys are challenged with, and he’s not. He can impact the game with more than just pitching. Those are the things you evaluate that the wind doesn’t tell you. You see that, you know that he gets the speed of the game, the possibilities of game situations that can develop when the ball is hit to him.”

Nick Markakis will serve as the designated hitter Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, his first game since March 1. He was scratched from the lineup two days later.

“It’s not a medical thing anymore in our minds,” Showalter said. “It’s just a baseball issue now and he took BP again today and felt really good. If we wakes up tomorrow and feels good, he’ll DH.”

Matt Wieters will start behind the plate, his first road trip this spring.

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