Chavez suffers 'devastating injury'
Chavez tore a pair of ligaments and cartilage in his knee, the Mariners said Saturday. Team physician Dr. Edward Khalfayan said the likely recovery time for Chavez following surgery will be about nine months to one year.
"He's in pretty good spirits, but obviously the news that it's a pretty tragic and devastating injury," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Seattle placed Chavez on the 60-day disabled list and added infielder Josh Wilson to the 25-man roster. Wilson was claimed on waivers by the Mariners on Friday after splitting the 2009 season between the Arizona and San Diego organizations.
Chavez was injured in the fifth inning of Friday night's 4-3 win over Arizona. Trying to chase down a pop into shallow left field, the charging Chavez collided with retreating shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. The pair banged knees, causing Chavez's right leg to hyperextend. Khalfayan believes the hyperextension tore Chavez's anterior cruciate ligament, and when Chavez flipped and landed hard on the field, his medial collateral ligament was torn.
Khalfayan, who is also a team physician for the Seattle Seahawks, likened Chavez's injury to those sustained by Seahawks receivers Deion Branch and Nate Burleson. He attended to Chavez on the field Friday night and was confident that Chavez had torn both ligaments.
It'll likely be another few weeks before Chavez can undergo surgery and the full extent of the damage is revealed. Surgery will occur once swelling goes down and rehabilitation is expected to begin immediately after surgery.
Khalfayan said with most ACL tears, he keeps patients from running for three months. With Chavez, it will likely be four months before the speedster will be given the OK to run.
Chavez started all three outfield positions this season and was hitting .273. He came to Seattle as part of a three-team, 12-player trade last December and proved valuable as a starter, and as a defensive or running replacement late in games off the bench.
With Chavez out, Wladimir Balentien will get another opportunity to earn the starting spot in left field. But Balentien has struggled at the plate and at times been a defensive liability in the field this season. He's hitting only .223 in 40 games, with just one homer and six RBIs.
Wakamatsu said Balentien gets first crack at earning the every day spot, but other options -- most likely Triple-A outfielder Michael Saunders -- will be considered.
"We've given him a couple of opportunities this year to see if he's going to be the player we think he can be," Wakamatsu said of Balentien. "If not then we'll have to make some changes and address that."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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