Giants reliever Will Smith did not get the news he hoped for after undergoing an MRI last night. GM Bobby Evans told reporters that the scan showed possible ligament damage that will require a second opinion, as Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area was among those to report via Twitter.
It’s not yet clear whether there’ll be a need for a surgical procedure, and there’s evidently some hope that a rehabilitation approach will be possible, but the team is bracing itself for a significant loss of time. Evans says that “there are things on [the] MRI that didn’t necessarily show up on [the] last MRI,” Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (links to Twitter).
Smith, 27, underwent testing earlier in the spring, likely providing a rather clear baseline for the more recent imaging. While he was cleared to resume throwing at that time, the southpaw exited his outing yesterday with renewed elbow pain.
It’s not clear at this point what options are on the table, and we likely won’t know more until Smith’s forthcoming evaluation. There are an increasing variety of possible treatments for UCL injuries, ranging from rehab (sometimes supplemented by platelet-rich plasma and/or stem cell injections) to ligament repair to full-blown ligament replacement (the legendary Tommy John procedure). While the best-case scenario involves a few months’ downtime, the most serious outcome can require more than a year-long layoff — and isn’t always fully successful in allowing a return.
Needless to say, losing the high-quality lefty for any stretch would represent a blow to the Giants’ pen. There are several interesting southpaw fill-in options on the 40-man. Relievers Steven Okert and Josh Osich have each shown their talent at the game’s highest level, and starter Ty Blach could also represent a versatile option.