In replacing Wilson Betemit, Orioles depth on display

This morning, the Orioles are reeling from designated hitter Wilson Betemit's right knee injury. More should be known today about the severity of Betemit’s injury, but it doesn’t look good.

After Betemit’s right knee buckled while he was running between first and second base Monday, an MRI revealed a Grade 2/3 posterior cruciate ligament tear with associated injuries. It’s still unclear whether Betemit will need surgery.

The injury definitely resonated through the Orioles clubhouse. Even though you don’t think of Betemit as one of the team’s spotlight players, he’s still a popular guy in the clubhouse because he’s seen as a hard-working veteran.

Suddenly, with five spring games left -- and exactly a week before Opening Day -- the Orioles have a major hole to fill.

After the game, one player in the Orioles clubhouse said seeing a key contributor like Betemit go down made him immediately worry about getting out of camp healthy as a team.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said these kind of injuries always seem to happen the final week of camp, as the roster picture begins to become more clear and evaluations become finalized.

But this is the same Orioles team that last season overcame several injuries to key players. They had Nolan Reimold for just 16 games last season and Brian Roberts for 17. And Nick Markakis spent time on the disabled list twice last season.

And the organization has improved it’s depth since last season. So while Betemit’s injury is jarring, there are plenty of internal options to fill his hole.

“Wilson’s main strength is as a left-handed bat,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “And we do have capable left-handed hitters, and we have some right-handed power capable hitters, as well.”

As I wrote today, that speaks well to left-handed hitting Ryan Flaherty's prospects of making the team. It also gives a deserving nonroster outfielder like Steve Pearce, Conor Jackson or Lew Ford a better chance of making the club.

So there are plenty of options, but losing Betemit is obviously a tough hit.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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