SAN FRANCISCO - When they plucked him out of Colorado's minor league system in December, the Giants hoped to have Julian Fernandez on their 40-man roster all season. They still might, but not in the way they expected.
Fernandez, a right-hander who regularly touches 100 mph, will seek a second opinion on his right elbow after being diagnosed with a sprained right ulnar collateral ligament. That diagnosis often leads to Tommy John surgery, but team officials were cautious Tuesday when talking about Fernandez's future.
"I think it's fair to say there's concern," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's why he's getting a second opinion. He felt it his last outing (of spring training)."
The Giants picked the 22-year-old in the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings, which puts them in an odd spot. Fernandez had a rough spring but still has plenty of promise, and with all the other injuries, there was a chance he might have made the team, at least initially. Bochy would say only that the decision would have gone down to the wire.
Now, Fernandez will certainly start the season on the disabled list. If he had not made the team, the Giants would have had to offer him back to the Rockies, but they cannot do that with an injured player. If Fernandez does have surgery, the Giants will be on the hook for the major league minimum salary of $545,000, which ordinarily would not be a big deal, except for the fact that they're working so hard to stay under the competitive balance tax. General manager Bobby Evans didn't want to speculate, but said the team is prepared and remains under the tax right now.
"We have our understanding of the unexpected," Evans said. "We were prepared for the unexpected to help us stay below the CBT."