CINCINNATI -- It's never a welcomed sight in a clubhouse. There was Reds infielder Chris Valaika, standing at his locker Monday with the aid of the dreaded crutches and knowing that his season was prematurely over.
Valaika sustained a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee and will have surgery next week with the expectation of being ready in time for Spring Training 2012. The injury happened as the 26-year-old swung for a single in the top of the fifth inning vs. the Rockies on Sunday. He remained in the game before exiting with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
"I swung and my spikes got caught. I just twisted on it," Valaika said. "I tried to play through it, I wasn't sure what happened. Then playing defense the next inning, it got worse and worse. I didn't want to hurt the team by being out there so I took myself out."
In 14 games over two big league stints with the Reds this season, Valaika batted .280 (7-for-25) and made seven starts. He batted .261 with seven homers and 37 RBIs this season at Triple-A Louisville.
This is the second time that Valaika has torn the same ACL, with the previous time happening during a collision with an outfielder as a college player. However, he didn't feel as though he blew out his knee this time.
"I was pretty surprised, too," Valaika said. "It didn't hurt, but it just didn't feel right rounding the base. You know your body, and it didn't feel 100 percent."
Valaika, primarily a second baseman, made two starts at shortstop this season. He should be in camp next year competing for a middle-infield roster spot.
"He came in today on crutches, he apologized," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "There is nothing to apologize for. He really wanted to play and be part of the team. He is a fine young man that we all like having around. He stayed ready to play. It's a pretty big blow for him, but modern medicine has a way of fixing and healing compared to before."