By JANIE McCAULEY, Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — All-Star Giants closer Brian Wilson will undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery Thursday in Pensacola, Fla.
Renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery after doing a similar procedure on Wilson when the right-hander was in college at LSU in 2003. San Francisco team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki was set to travel to Florida on Wednesday night to assist with the operation.
Andrews examined Wilson on Wednesday and confirmed the Giants' diagnosis of a torn ulnar collateral ligament that will sideline him all season. While the timeframe can be longer than the standard 12-18 months following Tommy John surgery, the Giants hope Wilson is a quick healer and will be able to pitch in 2013.
"We're all set to have the surgery done and get that over with," manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday before the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies. "On the rehab side of it, they're doing a better job of getting these guys back on the mound, throwing a little bit sooner. From what I understand, when you have the second one it could take a little longer. It's not like there's a large sample size to show that. Hopefully it all goes well and Brian will be pitching next year."
The 30-year-old bearded closer led the majors with 48 saves in 2010 and recorded the final out in Game 5 of the World Series at Texas to clinch the franchise's first championship since moving West in 1958.
The three-time All-Star complained of discomfort in the elbow last Friday and was sent for an MRI exam. Wilson threw 32 pitches at Colorado last Thursday while working on back-to-back days, and had to be checked on once. Groeschner said Wilson felt something in the elbow that day, but told the team Friday.
Wilson finished 6-4 with a 3.11 ERA and 36 saves in 57 appearances last season, held out down the stretch as a precaution. He had taken all of the important steps in his rehab this spring, so the injury caught everybody by surprise.
Bochy expects Wilson to re-join the team at home next weekend after its upcoming road trip East to New York and Cincinnati.
"He'll come back here and resume his rehab and I'm sure he'll be around to support his teammates," Bochy said.
The Giants are confident in their current bullpen structure with Santiago Casilla in the closer spot — he filled in for Wilson last year — and Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez are also capable ninth-inning options to hold a late lead.
In fact, center fielder Angel Pagan said the bullpen will "protect it like an upside down cat."
Casilla earned his first save in Tuesday's 4-2 win, following up scoreless innings by Romo and Clay Hensley.
"Our staff is well-armed," Romo said. "We can pitch in whatever situation. Tonight we showed how we mesh and blend well. We complement each other. We're just trying to get outs. There was really no pressure to get the first close game out of the way."
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