MARCH 30: Smith had his surgery this week, tweets Pavlovic. The initial read of the doctors is now that Smith can be back in the big leagues by next May, Pavlovic adds.
7:08am: Giants left-hander Will Smith will decide Friday whether to undergo Tommy John surgery on his ailing elbow, but it doesn’t appear he’ll avoid the procedure. Both doctors who examined the reliever’s elbow this week have recommended the surgery, manager Bruce Bochy announced Thursday (via Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area).
Smith’s elbow has been an issue since the outset of spring training in late February, when the Giants had to shut him down for a week on account of inflammation. The injury didn’t look serious at the time, but the discomfort returned Monday and is likely to yield surgery. If he does go under the knife, Smith will still accrue service time for the next year-plus that he misses. The 27-year-old is in his second of four arbitration-eligible seasons and will make $2.5MM in 2017.
This would have been the first full season in San Francisco for Smith, whom the Giants acquired from the Brewers at last year’s trade deadline. Playoff-bound San Francisco gave up right-hander Phil Bickford, who’s now suspended but was among Baseball America’s top 50 prospects prior to the deal, and catcher Andrew Susac in an effort to bolster its bullpen. Smith warranted that return thanks to his quality output in Kansas City and Milwaukee from 2013 through the first half of last season, and he also fared nicely in his first action with the Giants. Over an 18 1/3-inning span, he recorded a 2.95 ERA ball with 12.8 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9. All told, Smith logged a 3.13 ERA, 11.91 K/9, 3.58 BB/9 and a 42.6 percent ground-ball rate in 198 2/3 frames over the previous four years.
The loss of Smith will clearly be a significant one for the Giants, whose bullpen was a mediocre group last year that suffered no shortage of late-game meltdowns. Smith would have been San Francisco’s top lefty option in relief this season, but the bullpen will instead have to rely on Josh Osich, Steven Okert and perhaps fifth starter candidate Ty Blach as its primary southpaws.