Brian Wilson’s ability to pitch on opening day is in significant
doubt after the Giants cut short the right-handed closer’s throwing
session Wednesday-his first time picking up a baseball since
straining his left oblique six days earlier.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Brian Wilson’s ability to pitch on opening day is in significant doubt after the Giants cut short the right-handed closer’s throwing session Wednesday-his first time picking up a baseball since straining his left oblique six days earlier.
While Wilson and manager Bruce Bochy gave differing accounts of the session, the Giants’ black-bearded closer with the rebellious persona said he wouldn’t strenuously object if the club tells him to begin the season on the disabled list.
“I’m an employee. I’m not an investor,” Wilson said. “They do what’s necessary, and I follow orders. There might be disagreement, but whatever they feel is necessary has to be right. I’ll agree with whatever they want to do.
“I don’t own teams. I throw a baseball. If they say, come game time, that I’m not ready, then I don’t have the right to argue. That would do no good.”
Bochy didn’t witness Wilson’s eight-minute session and was hesitant to call it a setback but said “it didn’t feel as good as we hoped, so we backed him off. . . . More than anything it gave us a better idea where he’s at.
“We’re running short on time. We understand it. If he’s not ready, we’ll start without him.”
Wilson sounded less discouraged, saying he expected to feel some discomfort. Wilson also said he was throwing “at a high level,” which contradicted Bochy’s description of “real light catch, flat ground, easy toss.”
Wilson said he threw out of his windup and advised reporters to ask his catch partner, Taira Uematsu, how his thumb was feeling.
“It’s unheard of for someone to be six days out, play catch and feel amazing,” said Wilson, whose 48 saves last season set a franchise record and led the majors. “Maybe it’s frustrating to others that it wasn’t the most perfect catch session known to man, but for me, I’m just one step closer to getting healthy, and we’ll just keep re-evaluating.”
Wilson said he might try to play catch again Thursday if trainers give him the go-ahead. “The ideal progression is catch, long toss, light bullpen, get-after-it bullpen, game time,” he said.
That’s a lot of progress to make before the Giants’ opener March 31 at Dodger Stadium. Wilson already missed the first three weeks of the spring because of lower-back soreness. He has made just five appearances and hasn’t built to a high pitch count or tested himself by working back-to-back days.
“I’m not worried,” Wilson said. “I know my body. I know what I’m capable of doing. I’m not worried about what others are thinking.
“I guess everybody wanted me to be healed the night I was injured.
“I mean, I’d like to feel superhuman. Correction: I am superhuman. But at the same time, to be realistic, at six days out, I’m not going to feel 1,000 percent.”
If Wilson is unavailable, Bochy said he would ideally call on one pitcher as a replacement at closer. But he also extolled the virtues of a committee that would allow him to play matchups. Right-hander Santiago Casilla and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt appear to be the top candidates to pitch in save opportunities, as matchups warrant.
“We have some good candidates who could handle pitching the ninth,” Bochy said. “And we haven’t ruled out Willie completely.”
– Story by Andrew Baggarly, San Jose Mercury News