Rehabbing knee 1st choice for Crew's Smith

Reliever will rest, then test by playing catch before considering surgery

Rehabbing knee 1st choice for Crew's Smith

PHOENIX -- Brewers reliever Will Smith will try rehabbing his injured right knee before turning to surgery.

Smith tore the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee while pulling off his shoe following an outing last week. After consulting Tuesday morning with Dr. William Raasch, Smith said he would rest for another three weeks, then try playing catch. One to three weeks after that, if the knee still feels stable, he would attempt to ramp up in an effort to return to active duty.

But if the knee remains unstable at that point, Smith would undergo season-ending surgery.

"Raasch doesn't think it's that bad. Obviously, he's seen way worse," Smith said. "He's actually glad it's my 'lead' leg. A lot of stuff's going good for me -- in my favor, you could say. We're just going to have to sit around for three weeks and let some more swelling go down to find out."

Why not have surgery now?

"If you end up having surgery [now], you'd be out for the year anyway. Or it would be close," Smith said. "[If it heals], I can come back and pitch a little bit. So that's where we are now, just sit around and wait.

"You want to be able to play. You kind of hope he comes in and says, 'Your knee is fine. You'll be good to go tomorrow.' You're hoping for that, but you have all the trust in the world in [Brewers head athletic trainer] Dan [Wright] and Raasch. You trust what they're saying. They're confident I'm going to come back completely fine. That was positive, at least."

Smith expects to remain in Phoenix when the Brewers travel to Houston and Biloxi, Miss., later this week for exhibitions, but he said he expected to be in Milwaukee for Monday's Opening Day.

The odd nature of Smith's injury -- hurt while taking off his shoe -- made his story a national news item last week. Teammate Tyler Thornburg essentially declared war on footwear, posting a photo to Twitter of Smith's offending shoe in a trash can.

Too soon? Nah, said Smith, who laughed at the joke.

"There's always a weird injury in spring. Frankie stepped on a cactus," said Smith, referring to closer Francisco Rodriguez's unfortunate misstep two years ago. "I'm a fun-loving guy, so there's no sense in sitting here trying to mope over it. [Laughing it off] is going to get me through.

"The guys have been great about it. My phone is constantly going off with people checking on me. It's nice to have that feeling."

In other injury news, Counsell said left-hander Sean Nolin was still experiencing elbow soreness and would undergo an MRI scan. Nolin was already slated to begin the season on the disabled list.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.