San Francisco Giants Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of their revamped bullpen, will be having Tommy John surgery according to manager Bruce Bochy. According to both, both doctors who examined Smith recommend the viscous surgery for the 27-year-old.
Smith missed the first month of team workouts because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned to the team on March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. After more tests, it was determined Smith had a strain in his elbow and should seek further examination. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. Both doctors recommend Tommy John Surgery.
In 2016, Smith found his role within the Giant bullpen. He had a 3.35 ERA in 53 games pitched. Bochy and the rest of the Giants organization seemed high on Smith. During this Spring Training, Smith has only had two games pitched and that is because of his elbow.
This is a key loss for the Giants in many aspects. First, they lose a piece of the bullpen that was supposed to be a major middle-reliever. Smith ate up 40 and 1/3 innings last year and that number was only expected to grow in 2017, "We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on.”
A timetable for return is different for every pitcher. That said, the general timeline is 12-16 months. One of the worst cases seen was Matt Moore, Thursday night’s San Francisco starter. Moore had Tommy John on April 23, 2014 and did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then he was under pitching restrictions.
Either way, Bochy will need to find someone for the role quickly as the season is fast approaching. It is entirely clear the direction he will go in at this time. As for the pitcher himself, Smith is under team control for three more seasons including this upcoming one.