10/05/2003 5:40 PM ET
Schmidt may need elbow surgery
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants pitcher Jason Schmidt will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test on his right elbow Monday to determine if surgery is absolutely necessary to repair his partially torn tendon.
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
Trainer Stan Conte said Sunday that he and the team's medical staff will "talk to a bunch of different physicians at first, whether there should be surgery, and then which physician might do the surgery. We've been definitely leaning toward the procedure since August."
Conte said the condition -- revealed in an Aug. 5 MRI, but kept under wraps -- was unlikely to heal by itself, and if the operation is given the green light that Schmidt would probably be ready for the start of the 2004 regular season.
Reports from the Giants at that time indicated Schmidt had chronic tendinitis in the elbow, and had dealt with it for several years.
"It is major surgery, but not like Tommy John surgery," said Conte. "It's fairly common. Kevin Brown has had it and Robb Nen had similar surgery in 2000. We think he'll be ready by the beginning of the season and probably won't be 100 percent for Spring Training. It definitely won't be a normal spring for Jason."
Remarkably, Schmidt pitched fairly well down the stretch despite the elbow problem, finishing with a 17-5 record and winning the National League ERA title at 2.34.
The earlier MRI following Schmidt's seven innings of shutout ball against Pittsburgh revealed the elbow tendon had partially torn away from the bone, and the Giants initially told Schmidt he should probably have corrective surgery immediately.
But the highly competitive pitcher said he would continue to play.
Controversy swirled at the National League Division Series after Schmidt threw a three-hit shutout over the Florida Marlins in Game 1 of the series in San Francisco on Sept. 30.
The team then seemed to be waffling whether the 30-year-old veteran would start the critical Game 4 Saturday in place of rookie Jerome Williams, with the Giants trailing in the series, 2-1.
Schmidt said in a news conference that he could have pitched and was ready for Game 5 if necessary. "I said, 'If the case presented itself and I have to pitch today, I will do that. It would probably be in everybody's best interest if I didn't, but if you want me to pitch, I will do that.'"
Manager Felipe Alou, who indicated he favored Schmidt throwing in the game -- a 7-6 loss that eliminated the Giants -- said "Schmidt was not ready to pitch" Saturday but the pitcher denied saying that.
Meanwhile, Conte said pitchers Jesse Foppert (Tommy John surgery in September) and Nen (shoulder surgery, OK for spring) were currently rehabbing at Pacific Bell Park along with outfielder Marvin Benard, recovering from knee surgery.
First baseman J.T. Snow has apparently fully recovered from groin problems and there are no other players scheduled for any minor medical procedures, said Conte.
Longtime trainer Barney Nugent, an 11-year vet with the Giants, has retired. Nothing is official, but the top candidate to replace him is Dave Groeschner, an assistant trainer and the strength and conditioning coordinator.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.