Closer Wilson mildly strains left oblique

Closer Wilson mildly strains left oblique

Closer Wilson mildly strains left oblique
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Wilson's checkered spring continued Saturday with another ominous development: A mildly strained left oblique muscle (side) that will sideline the Giants' closer for an indefinite period, thus casting into doubt his availability for Opening Day.

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "It's a setback, but hopefully we'll find out it's not too big of a setback."

At the earliest, a prognosis for Wilson won't emerge until Monday, when he's expected to be re-evaluated by Giants' physicians. Bochy indicated that Wilson, who felt soreness in his side after pitching a scoreless inning against the Los Angeles Angels last Thursday, will be prohibited from throwing until at least Tuesday.

Admitting that Wilson's condition aroused his concern, Bochy said, "I can tell you exactly how concerned I am" after Monday's exam.

Wilson, who began Spring Training with a stiff back that kept him out of Cactus League competition until March 6, downplayed his latest ailment. "I'm fine," he said. "Just another crappy nuisance to deal with. I can't get down; I can't get mad. Just treat it and get it over with."

Recovery from oblique injuries isn't always that simple, due to their volatile nature. Even Wilson said, "Everything's different." He should know. The right-hander strained the same left oblique in his Major League debut at Colorado on April 23, 2006, and wasn't activated again until May 20.

Wilson insisted that his condition had improved since he injured himself. He replied, "Of course," when asked if he thought he'll be ready for the March 31 season opener at Los Angeles.

"I feel a lot better than I did Thursday," he said. "I'll feel a lot better tomorrow. Monday, we'll take it from there."

Wilson's injury failed to stifle the usually upbeat mood in the Giants' clubhouse. "I wouldn't imagine the team's worried about me," said Wilson, whose 48 saves led the Major Leagues last year. "They know the situation. They know I'll be ready."

Wilson, 29, maintained his sense of humor as he recalled his visit to the MRI chamber. "They asked me what kind of music you want to listen to in the MRI, and I said, 'I don't care, whatever's playing.' I kid you not, 'Smoke on the Water' was playing, so everything's going to be good." As Giants fans know, "Smoke on the Water" was the entry music for Robb Nen, the franchise's all-time saves leader who gave Wilson valuable advice when he was younger.

Bochy indicated that virtually everyone in the bullpen would be suited for closing if Wilson were sidelined for a substantial period. Specifically, Bochy cited Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.

Affeldt saved four games last year, but Lopez and Romo have combined for six saves in 562 big league appearances. Though Casilla is prone to bouts of poor control, he possesses a closer's repertoire with his combination of high-velocity fastballs and knee-buckling curveballs.

That's the sort of stuff Casilla displayed while striking out two in a perfect ninth inning as he saved Saturday's 3-1 exhibition victory over Kansas City. But Bochy, anticipating reporters' questions, said that Casilla simply appeared in a prescribed order after Affeldt and Romo shared the eighth inning, and wasn't being groomed as Wilson's replacement.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.