The San Francisco Giants concluded their Cactus League Schedule on Wednesday with some off-putting news, announcing that left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt will begin the season on the disabled list after straining his right MCL. It is the same injury that Affeldt suffered in 2012 while picking up his then-four-year-old son.
Affeldt is expected to be out for seven to ten days after suffering the injury, according to manager Bruce Bochy. His DL stint can be backdated to March 23, so Affeldt could be back as soon as the Giants’ home opener on April 8. While that’s not a whole lot of time to suffer without him, this does put a dent in the belief that Affeldt could turn the corner on the injury vulnerability that has plagued him throughout his Giants career.
To be fair to the 34-year-old reliever, some of Affeldt’s injuries as a Giant were freak occurrences, such as the aforementioned child-lifting incident, the time in 2011 when he cut his hand with a knife while trying to separate frozen burgers, or a right oblique strain suffered last year following a sneezing fit. However, a left oblique strain in 2010, a 2013 groin strain and the sports hernia surgery that eventually followed have all kept Affeldt from pitching as well.
Affeldt talked weeks ago about how he felt better and stronger than he had in years, having taken every measure to ensure that his troublesome groin was fully healed. You could see, though, that over Affeldt’s last several spring appearances, he wasn’t as effective as he had been earlier on. Hopefully this period of rest will give him time to regain his touch for the regular season.
There’s little argument that Affeldt is an important weapon to have in the bullpen, and his willingness to take jokes about his injury, as well as his overall humility and approachability, make him a key clubhouse figure. With that said, this is the fourth injury which has sidelined Affeldt during a one-year period. Now that he is 34, it might be time for the Giants to lower their expectations of him being a significant contributor.
Judging by their offseason actions, which included rehabilitating former prospect Dan Runzler, trading for David Huff, continuing to develop key prospects Mike Kickham, Bryce Bandilla and Josh Osich, and even taking a flyer on Dontrelle Willis, the team already was seeking to have some good left-handed depth should they lose Affeldt for an extended period. They should make sure that all those players are ready at any moment, because right now there has to be significant doubt about Affeldt’s ability to hold up health-wise.