SAN FRANCISCO Brian Wilson was as mirthful as possible for someone discussing such sobering news.
The Giants three-time All-Star closer and World Series hero acknowledged Sunday morning that he is almost certainly headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Yet he guaranteed he would resume his career with the Giants next season, he was adamant he will return stronger than ever and he said he would remain a visible presence in the clubhouse this season. He anticipates celebrating with them in September, too.
I dont think (the bullpen is) going to falter, Wilson said. I think were going to take the West no matter what, whether Im here or not.
Wilson admitted it was his elbow, not his ankle, that bothered him when he threw a pitch to the Rockies Tyler Colvin in Colorado on Thursday. Wilson had told trainers and coaches a fib because he did not want his season to end with his being escorted off the mound.
He barely escaped a bases-loaded jam to save the 4-2 victory for Madison Bumgarner.
My mindset is, if its inflammation, just get out of this mess, Wilson said. If this is season ending, your last act will be to preserve Bumgarners win.
Wilson joked that Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper should be ready in the booth for him. He said hell win an Emmy out from under their noses, too. And apparently, Major League Baseball is 14.99 richer because Wilson, now focused on being a fan this season, bought the MLB At-Bat app on his iPad first thing Sunday morning.
Heres the full transcript of the interview:
Q: How are you handling this diagnosis?
A: Im doing fine. Im not down at all. The likelihood is, yeah the seasons over with. Ill be getting a couple more opinions but we all know what structural damage is. The likelihood of me throwing again this year is minimal.
Ive prepared for a different view of the game. I have an opportunity now to be a better teammate and watch other stories unravel and be more of a student of the game. I still have a lot to learn and I still have a lot to teach. By no stretch of the imagination is my journey over. This is a mild bump in my road. Nothing has been easy when Ive pitched or lived so this is an opportunity for me to get a better arm.
Why is that disappointing? I get to throw harder. I like it. I like my odds. I get to become more involved in the community and Kruk and Kuip better watch out because Ill be upstairs in the booth, Ill be announcing games. Maybe win an Emmy.
Q: When did you first notice something was wrong?
A: 2010 -- I mean, if you want to be honest. I was pitching on borrowed time last year. If you want to look at timing, yeah, getting hurt sucks, but the timing of this, being April, and you look at 12 months from now, if I do have to get surgery, Ill be pitching again in April with another season under my belt.
And I still will be a Giant because I have four arbitration years and so legally Im theirs. Which is good. So basically go see a couple more doctors this week and there will be a decision by the end of the week.
Q: This would be your second Tommy John surgery. Will that first experience help you?
A: Im not worried about coming back at all. Its not even a question. Ill be back pitching. The thing Ill be disappointed about is, uh, Im no slouch to working out, but I just know what Im in for. I know its a grueling process, daily, but Ive never shied away from hard work. Ive never shied away from the opportunity to get better and Ive got a full year to work on some stuff.
And you know what? Now I get to take in some Giants baseball from a different perspective. The first thing I did this morning was download that MLB app on my iPad. So Ill be watching a lot of games. Im not going to disappear. If I do have to rehab, its going to be here. Ill be in the locker room. Im not going to miss a game.
My spirits arent down. I know a lot of people are sad. I know Giants fans are going to look at this as a huge loss, but you know, weve got the best bullpen in the league. Ive gotten the honor to play with those guys, teach them a lot of things and theyve taught me a lot of things. And theyre going to fill my role the best they can and I dont think theyre going to falter. I think were going to take the West no matter what, whether Im here or not. Weve got a great lineup, weve got the same coaching staff back, the front office did a marvelous job putting together a team thats going to win and thats exactly what were going to do .
Q: Youre confident the bullpen will thrive without you?
A: Of course. The other seven guys are very good. Theres going to be different responsibilities and more roles to be filled and I know theyre going to do a great job. Thats not even a question. Im not going to sit here and say Im the savior and things are going to fall apart. No, not at all.
Q: What did you feel Thursday in Colorado?
A: Yeah, you could tell what pitch didnt work well. I walked behind the mound. I threw 10 more pitches. My mind set is, if its inflammation, just get out of this mess. If this is season ending, your last act will be to preserve Bumgarners win.
Q: Any regrets about how you handled that?
A: Thats now I play baseball. Push it to the limits. I was able to help our team do some great things last year regardless of how horrible it felt throwing a baseball.
Q: What went into the decision not to have surgery when you were on the DL last year?
A: That was a different thing. That was forearm, flexor (tendon). This is ligament stuff. That didnt require surgery. It just required a little time off. But I guess you could say this was coming and its better now than any time based on the time frame it takes to come back. Its a year. No big deal. If I plan on playing forever, then this is a small percentage of my career.
Once Im on the mound again next year, playing baseball, Im not going to look back at this and say, Wow that sucked, or Woe is me. Im not like that.
The first time I got (Tommy John surgery), I looked at it as an opportunity to throw harder. You know, 21-year-old kid, I get to throw harder. Thats pretty awesome. The difficult thing is the monotony of all the exercises and the time it takes. Its more mental anguish than physical anguish. Because you wake up and youre told you have to do this work, you complain three minutes into it and then you do the work. Its the mental part that can be overbearing, but you know what? Ive done it once. Do it again. Thats the case.
Q: Will being at the ballpark for your rehab be a therapy of sorts?
A: I think so. Ive got 24 best friends out there, and Ive got the coaching staff. And you know what? Ive got an entire city thats my friend. So Im not going to be down. Im a fan of baseball. So Ive got another 150-something games to watch and see what kind of story unfolds.
Q: You have one more arbitration year left. Do you imagine it will be difficult to come to terms on a contract?
A: Well, like I said, if I plan on playing baseball forever Im not worried about contracts. As long as Im pitching, things will work out. Its not something I think about at all. The Giants have me for another year. Youre welcome.
Q: Youll see Dr. Andrews in Florida?
A: I have to call Jimmy, see whats open.
Q: Will you see Lewis Yocum (in Anaheim)?
A: Thats a possibility. Theres plenty of great doctors. It doesnt hurt to get everyones opinions on this.
Q: Do the tests show a UCL tear?
A: I didnt ... Thats not something I really know about. I just go by how my arm basically feels, what Ive gone through already, similarities and all that, and what (trainer Dave Groeschner) and all the other doctors are portraying.