NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Even in his absence, Brian Wilson remains a presence in the minds of the Giants.
Yahoo! Sports cited a source Wednesday claiming that Wilson has been told by his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, that he will be cleared to participate in Spring Training and ready to pitch competitively by Opening Day.
Whether Wilson wishes to return to the Giants, who declined to offer him a 2013 contract last Friday, is still unknown. But the Giants haven't given up on Wilson, despite their refusal to tender a deal to the popular closer who underwent his second Tommy John elbow surgery in April.
"There's clearly an understanding that we have interest in keeping the door open to bring him back," vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said on the final full day of baseball's Winter Meetings. "But he needs to assess what his other options are."
Evans, who called the 30-year-old Wilson a "Giant for life" on Monday, reiterated that he and the right-hander's agent, Dan Lozano, agreed to stay in touch regarding the three-time All-Star's employment preferences and recovery from his surgery. Evans indicated that no talks have occurred recently, particularly while the Giants engineered deals with free agents Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.
"He needs time to see what his options are," Evans said, "and we needed time to focus on Pagan and Scutaro."
Asked whether he thought that Wilson can indeed be ready to pitch by Opening Day, Evans responded, "That's a medical question." Evans added that Wilson will need to be monitored closely and eased toward competitive shape gradually, despite Andrews' optimistic projection.
"I think Brian understands that the most important part of his 2013 season are the last three months, not the first three months, in terms of performance and producing," Evans said. "I think he understands that those are more critical than being out there Opening Day. ... I think anybody who signs Brian, whether it's us or somebody else, will have to take into account that you have to do what's best for the player. Even though it may be ideal to have him out there to start the season, you have to prepare for him not to be out there because that may be in his best interest."
The Giants appeared to experience a quiet day as their baseball operations staff prepared to return to San Francisco on Thursday. Stale rumors about the club's interest in outfielder Nick Swisher lingered, though the Giants no longer can afford him after committing $70 million to Pagan, their center fielder and leadoff batter, and Scutaro, their efficient second baseman.
In reality, the Giants continued to search for a handful of missing parts, including a right-handed-hitting left fielder to platoon with Gregor Blanco, and a right-handed reliever to replace Guillermo Mota, a free agent who's unlikely to return.
"The work's never done," Evans said. "There are too many ways to try to find ways to protect your team over a long season."
Cody Ross, the Giants' 2010 postseason hero, might seem to be the perfect candidate for the part-time left-field role. But it's widely accepted that Ross, who hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs for Boston this year, still considers himself an everyday performer.
"He's not going to sign to be a right-handed platoon player," Evans said.
Forging a multi-year contract for catcher Buster Posey, the National League's reigning Most Valuable Player, tops San Francisco's long-term priority list. Posey is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, which will create negotiating opportunities between his representatives and the Giants. But months likely will pass before an agreement is reached, if it happens at all.
"There's no time like the present to begin that process," Evans said. "But I couldn't say how rapid-fire that will be. I would expect that to take some time. But we remain open and interested."