Will Smith has elected to have Tommy John surgery, leaving a gaping hole in the Giants' bullpen. Surgery, which will cost Smith at least a year, was the recommendation of both doctors Smith saw over the past week.
"It's not what I was hoping for, but we sat down and looked at the options and this makes the most sense," he said. "I'll miss the 2017 season and be ready full-tilt in 2018."
Smith missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned to the mound, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain. A second MRI revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki and flew to Los Angeles to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. Dr. ElAttrache will perform the surgery next week.
Smith said other options were discussed, but if stem cells or rehab failed, he would miss two full seasons.
"That was the deciding factor," he said. "Baseball is what I love to do. As soon as they said I could miss two years, that decided it for me. I can't miss two years. That's too big a roll of the dice."
Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac. He finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach.
"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bruce Bochy said Thursday. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."
Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.