In layman's terms, throwing causes compression in Lowry's forearm compartment, resulting in a pressure buildup that squeezes a nerve which weakens Lowry's hand. Dr. Gordon Brody will perform Lowry's surgery, which is expected to be a mild procedure, by making a small incision and releasing the fascia -- akin to slicing a sausage casing -- around the forearm muscles.
Before returning to the Bay Area on Tuesday for two days of tests, Lowry complained of fatigue in the area between his left thumb and wrist, which robbed him of his ability to control pitches. In two exhibition appearances, the Giants' projected No. 3 starter walked 12 of the 23 batters he faced, threw five pitches to the backstop on the fly and posted a 23.14 ERA.
"It's not like this is a common occurrence in baseball players," Bochy said of Lowry's injury. Indeed, the Giants medical staff researched exertional compartmental syndrome and could not find any Major Leaguers who endured the malady.
Lowry was the Giants' leading winner in two of the last three years -- including 2007, when he missed the final month of the season with forearm tightness. Lowry dedicated his offseason to strengthening his forearm and shoulder and resumed throwing, but he experienced discomfort in his arm shortly after reporting to Spring Training. Lowry believed he could pitch through the sensation, but his performance against Texas on Monday, when he walked nine of 12 hitters, prompted him to seek medical help.
Lowry's injury alters the competition in the Giants' starting rotation.
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"It's a blow," right-handed reliever Vinnie Chulk said. "We didn't expect Noah to be down. But that might give these guys who are battling for a starting position something to be hungry for."
Kevin Correia, previously competing for the rotation's No. 5 spot with Jonathan Sanchez, almost certainly will secure a starting job. Correia owns a 9.00 ERA in two Cactus League appearances, but he pitched three scoreless innings in his last outing.
Sanchez, sporting an 18.00 ERA in two games, has been inconsistent. He might have to fend off left-hander Patrick Misch and right-hander Victor Santos, a non-roster invitee, for the fifth starter role.
Misch has pitched only four innings in three games and owns a 2.25 ERA, but Bochy said the 26-year-old will receive the opportunity to work multiple innings.
"Obviously you don't want a great pitcher like Noah to go down. But for the time being, I'd love to have the opportunity to start," said Misch, who was 0-4 with a 4.24 ERA in 18 games (four starts) with the Giants last year.
Santos, an 11-game winner for Milwaukee in 2004, has pitched twice in the Cactus League and has a 6.75 ERA.