San Francisco Giants Spring Training 2011: Fear (for) the Beard
Brian Wilson is hurt!
Let the madness begin.
Some headlines are already there, most of which are referring to buzz phrases like "oblique muscle" and "out for opener" and "former Beach Boy still playing guitar" and "PANIC PANIC PANIC."
I'm not exactly in panic mode yet.
If anyone has seen anything on Brian Wilson in the past year, you'll know that he actually tore his oblique muscle in his major league debut and then pitched another inning afterwards.
That doesn't exactly mean that he can pitch through a season with a strained oblique, but it does mean that he knows how to deal with pain.
Wilson is now questionable for Opening Day. I agree, that's not the ideal situation for the Giants, but it is a situation that ballclubs have to learn to deal with.
Take what happened in Minnesota after Joe Nathan went down—that's what can happen in the best of situations.
Or you could look at what happened to the Giants after super-closer Robb Nen. Matt Herges, Dustin Hermanson, Brad Hennessey, Tyler Walker, Tim Worrell, Armando Benitez—that list even includes Dave Burba (yay 2004!)
But that's the worst case scenario.
Now, in 2011, Brian Wilson is claiming that there's no question that he'll be back by Opening Day.
But just in case, who should take over?
Off the top of my head, it has to be between Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo. I'd throw in Dan Runzler too, as a stopgap, but I don't know if he's going to even make the Opening Day roster, much less fill in as the closer.
Affeldt can do it, but the Giants love using Affeldt as a setup guy.
Javier Lopez is great in the lefty specialist role, but sometimes you just need a lefty who can get everyone out and Affeldt can definitely do that. His repertoire definitely reflects that he used to be a starter (fastball, curveball, changeup, slider) and he just doesn't have that out pitch that all closers need.
Runzler has good enough stuff that at some point, people started speculating that the Giants should trade Wilson before he flops and make Runzler their closer.
And then the Giants won the World Series and all those people shut the hell up, because that's just preposterous.
Now, the Giants are making him a starter.
I think the ball has to go to Sergio Romo in a pinch. He's just flat out dirty. He can't throw the ball straight, but he doesn't walk people.
He's got strikeout stuff and just enough to fool people in the beginning of the year until Wilson comes back.
And of course, if you need a replacement beard for The Beard, look no further than Romo.
Brian Wilson proclaims he is on track. I feel guilty every time I don't believe him.
In the meantime, if you haven't seen it, this is why everyone has to buy Showtime—EVERYONE.
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