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Smith opts to undergo Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever was mulling procedure vs. rehab; Bochy seeking setup options
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants will lose left-hander Will Smith for the entire 2017 season due to the reliever's decision to undergo Tommy John surgery on his ailing throwing elbow.

Smith said Friday that the procedure, which Dr. Neal Elattrache will perform in Los Angeles, has not yet been scheduled. However, it's likely to occur sometime next week.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants will lose left-hander Will Smith for the entire 2017 season due to the reliever's decision to undergo Tommy John surgery on his ailing throwing elbow.

Smith said Friday that the procedure, which Dr. Neal Elattrache will perform in Los Angeles, has not yet been scheduled. However, it's likely to occur sometime next week.

"The sooner we can get it done, the sooner we can get to work," said Smith, who walked off the mound in the middle of an appearance against the White Sox last Monday.

That was only the second Cactus League outing for Smith, who endured inflammation in his elbow earlier this spring.

Tweet from @White_Willy13: pic.twitter.com/FNkYmHfISC

"This is not what I was hoping for," said Smith, who pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings in his final 18 appearances for the Giants last season. "But when we sit down and look at all of our options and all the timing and stuff, this just makes the most sense, to have it done now -- miss 2017 and be ready for 2018, full tilt, ready to go. ... I can't miss two years. That's too risky of a dice to roll."

Since Smith was expected to serve as closer Mark Melancon's primary setup reliever, the Giants must scramble during the final week of Spring Training to fill that role. Manager Bruce Bochy indicated that the Giants will cast a wide net in the setup search, naming Josh Osich, George Kontos, Steven Okert, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law and non-roster invitee Neil Ramirez as candidates. Right-hander Hunter Strickland is another possibility.

Video: SF@CLE: Kontos gets Gonzalez looking

"That's a big piece of the bullpen that we have to replace," Bochy said. "The only way that's replaced is if somebody steps up and assumes that role. We have some candidates. Hopefully we have it figured out before we leave camp.

"We're not ruling out anybody. We have seven or eight games here. We've got to to figure out who's going to help out."

Smith, 27, was 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in 26 relief appearances for the Giants in 2016 after a July 31 trade that sent catcher Andrew Susac and Minor League right-handed pitcher Phil Bickford to the Brewers. Smith has pitched in parts of five big league seasons with the Royals and Brewers, compiling a 3.88 ERA over 292 1/3 innings.

Thursday's starting pitcher, Matt Moore, had Tommy John surgery in April 2014 and could easily relate to what his good friend is going through.

"It's not a very good place to be mentally," Moore said. "I feel for him. As a buddy I reached out to him and let him know if he wants something, needs to know anything, wants to bounce something, he knows I'm there for him.

"Who knows? Will's still a young guy. The good part about being young is things find their way back to where they were pretty easily. So we'll keep our fingers crossed for him."

Following surgery, Smith plans to rehabilitate mostly in San Francisco, where he can receive encouragement in the clubhouse from the Giants' legion of Tommy John survivors, including Kontos, Law and Strickland.

"They can motivate you, give you some morale when you have bad days," Smith said. "And I can do the same for them."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Will Smith